Merging Human and Machine with Soft-Materials Technology
Prof. Xuanhe Zhao 赵选贺
Soft Active Materials Laboratory, MIT
While human tissues are mostly soft, wet and bioactive; machines are commonly hard, dry and biologically inert. Bridging human-machine interfaces is of imminent importance in addressing grand societal challenges in healthcare, security, sustainability and joy of living. However, interfacing human and machines is extremely challenging due to their fundamentally contradictory properties. At MIT SAMs Lab, we exploit soft-material technology to bridge human-machine interfaces. On one side, soft materials such as bioactive hydrogels with similar mechanical and physiological properties as tissues can naturally integrate with human body, playing functions such as scaffolds, catheters, stents and implants. On the other side, the soft materials embedded with electronic and mechanical components can control and respond to external machines. In this talk, I will first discuss the mechanics to design extreme properties for soft materials, including tough, resilient, adhesive, strong and antifatigue, which are necessary for reliable robust human-machine interfaces. Then I will discuss a set of novel soft-material devices that interface with the human body, including i). long-term high-efficacy hydrogel neural probe, ii). ingestible and GI-resident hydrogel machine, and iii). untethered fast and forceful hydrogel robots controlled by magnetic fields. I will conclude the talk by proposing a systematic approach to design next-generation human-machine interfaces based on soft-material technology.
Dr. Xuanhe Zhao is an associate professor in mechanical engineering at MIT. His research group designs soft materials that possess unprecedented properties to address grant societal challenges. Dr. Zhao is the recipient of the early career award and young investigator award from National Science Foundation, Office of Naval Research, Society of Engineering Science, American Vacuum Society, Adhesion Society, Materials Today, Journal of Applied Mechanics, and Extreme Mechanics Letters. He held the Hunt Faculty Scholar at Duke and d'Arbeloff Career Development Chair and Robert N. Noyce Career Development Professor at MIT.