Soft Responsive Polymer Microrobots

Interdisciplinary Areas: Engineering and Healthcare/Medicine/Biology, Micro-, Nano-, and Quantum Engineering

Project Description

The postdoctoral fellow will work on the development of a new class of soft magnetic microrobots that use responsive polymers as active end-effectors and dual mode on-board sensors. An embedded magnetic body will allow for the use of external magnetic fields to control the navigation of these microrobots in the workspace. The polymeric actuators will be calibrated so that vision-based force-sensing techniques can be applied. Additionally, electrochromic properties will be embedded into the responsive polymers to enable the detection and measurement of electrical potential in the environment through changes in the microrobot color. The primary focus of the postdoctoral researcher will be on exploring, synthesizing, and evaluating various types of soft microrobots equipped with different responsive polymeric end-effectors and characterizing several actuation strategies that do not interfere with the external magnetic field used to control the position and orientation of the mobile microrobot or any biological entities in the workspace. The postdoctoral fellow will be able to utilize the state-of-the-art facilities at Purdue’s Multi-Scale Robotics and Automation Lab, the Laboratory of Flexible Electronic and Optical Devices, the Birck Nanotechnology Center, the Purdue Center for Cancer Research, and the Ray W. Herrick Laboratories for this project. 

Start Date

August 15, 2019

Postdoc Qualifications

PhD in Chemistry, Chemical Engineering, Biomedical Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Electrical & Computer Engineering, Computer Science or equivalent. Experience in polymer synthesis, soft robotics, microrobotics, MEMS, preferred.  


David J. Cappelleri
Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering
Multi-Scale Robotics and Automation Lab

Ramses Martinez
Assistant Professor of Industrial and Biomedical Engineering
School of Industrial Engineering and
Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering
Laboratory of Flexible Electronic and Optical Devices


1. W. Jing, S. Chowdhury, M. Guix, J. Wang, Z. An, B. Johnson, D. Cappelleri, “Micro-force Sensing Mobile Microrobots for Automated Micromanipulation Tasks", IEEE Transactions on Automation Science and Engineering (T-ASE), To Appear, Published on-line: June 8, 2018, DOI: 10.1109/TASE.2018.2833810.

2. M. Guix, J. Wang, Z. An, G. Adam, D. Cappelleri, “Real-time Force-feedback Micromanipulation using Mobile Microrobots with Colored Fiducials", IEEE Robotics & Automation Letters (RA-L) , Volume 3, No. 4, pp. 3591-3597, October 2018, DOI: 10.1109/LRA.2018.2854909.

3. Breger, J. C., Yoon, C., Xiao, R., Kwag, H. R., Wang, M. O., Fisher, J. P., Nguyen, T. D., and Gracias, D. H., 2015. “Self-Folding Thermo-Magnetically Responsive Soft Microgrippers". ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces, 7(5), Feb, pp. 3398-3405.

4. B. Sadri, D. Goswami, M. Sala de Medeiros, A. Pal, B. Castro, S. Kuang, and R. V. Martinez “Wearable and Implantable Epidermal Paper-Based Electronics”, ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces, To Appear, DOI: 10.1021/acsami.8b11020 

5. D. Goswami, J. C. Múnera, A. Pal, B. Sadri, C. Lui P. G. Scarpetti, and R. V. Martinez. “Roll-to-roll Nanoforming of Metals using Laser-induced Superplasticity”. Nano Letters, 18, 3616–3622 (2018)