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McKelvey School of Engineering

Brown School

MEMS Seminar: Michelle C. Yuen, PhD

Thursday, October 12 | 2:30 PM - 3:30 PM

Stephen F. & Camilla T. Brauer Hall, 012
6548 Forest Park Pkwy, St. Louis, MO 63112, USA

Michelle C. Yuen, postdoctoral fellow at Harvard University in the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences at the Harvard Microrobotics Lab.


Soft Robots Enabled by Functional Materials

Soft robots have the potential to extend the capabilities currently demonstrated within the field of robotics. By utilizing primarily soft materials in their construction, soft robots are inherently safe to operate around humans, can handle delicate tasks without advanced controls, and are robust to shocks and impacts during deployment. While proof-of-concept devices have been demonstrated, there remains a need for widely applicable, reliable soft robotic components.


In this talk, I will present my work on enabling technologies for soft robotic systems and, more broadly, deformable electromechanical systems. Specifically, I will discuss 1) high-deformation strain sensors for state reconstruction and closed-loop control of soft robots, 2) stretchable electronics fabricated using room-temperature liquid metals, and 3) responsive structures enabled by variable-stiffness materials that can switch reversibly from flexible to stiff. These devices rely upon functional materials – materials that have a useful, intrinsic property (e.g., conductivity, thermal-responsiveness) that can be leveraged for robotic needs. Throughout this talk, I will be highlighting the need for co-developed design, materials selection, and manufacturing processes to produce reliable devices that can be fabricated at scale.


The work presented in this talk illustrates a path toward building deformable electromechanical systems that are adaptable and versatile by leveraging soft, functional multi-material systems.


Event Type



McKelvey School of Engineering


Science & Technology



Mechanical Engineering & Materials Science
Event Contact

Kyla Kordell, kkyla@wustl.edu

Speaker Information

Michelle C. Yuen is a postdoctoral fellow at Harvard University in the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences at the Harvard Microrobotics Lab. She received her Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering from Purdue University in 2018, following a B.S. in Biological Systems Engineering from University of California, Davis in 2013. During her Ph.D. studies, she worked on the design, materials, and manufacturing methods for soft robotic components and systems. She was then awarded a Research Associateship from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine to work on next-generation stretchable electronic devices at the Air Force Research Laboratory. Currently, her work leverages her expertise in soft materials manipulation to building deployable inflated structures, soft electrically-responsive actuators, and adhesion strategies for marine mammal tagging.

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