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2020


Statistical reprogramming of macroscopic self-assembly with dynamic boundaries
Statistical reprogramming of macroscopic self-assembly with dynamic boundaries

Culha, U., Davidson, Z. S., Mastrangeli, M., Sitti, M.

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 117(21):11306-11313, May 2020 (article)

Abstract
Self-assembly is a ubiquitous process that can generate complex and functional structures via local interactions among a large set of simpler components. The ability to program the self-assembly pathway of component sets elucidates fundamental physics and enables alternative competitive fabrication technologies. Reprogrammability offers further opportunities for tuning structural and material properties but requires reversible selection from multistable self-assembling patterns, which remains a challenge. Here, we show statistical reprogramming of two-dimensional (2D), noncompact self-assembled structures by the dynamic confinement of orbitally shaken and magnetically repulsive millimeter-scale particles. Under a constant shaking regime, we control the rate of radius change of an assembly arena via moving hard boundaries and select among a finite set of self-assembled patterns repeatably and reversibly. By temporarily trapping particles in topologically identified stable states, we also demonstrate 2D reprogrammable stiffness and three-dimensional (3D) magnetic clutching of the self-assembled structures. Our reprogrammable system has prospective implications for the design of granular materials in a multitude of physical scales where out-of-equilibrium self-assembly can be realized with different numbers or types of particles. Our dynamic boundary regulation may also enable robust bottom-up control strategies for novel robotic assembly applications by designing more complex spatiotemporal interactions using mobile robots.

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DOI [BibTex]

2020


DOI [BibTex]


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Automatic Discovery of Interpretable Planning Strategies

Skirzyński, J., Becker, F., Lieder, F.

May 2020 (article) Submitted

Abstract
When making decisions, people often overlook critical information or are overly swayed by irrelevant information. A common approach to mitigate these biases is to provide decisionmakers, especially professionals such as medical doctors, with decision aids, such as decision trees and flowcharts. Designing effective decision aids is a difficult problem. We propose that recently developed reinforcement learning methods for discovering clever heuristics for good decision-making can be partially leveraged to assist human experts in this design process. One of the biggest remaining obstacles to leveraging the aforementioned methods for improving human decision-making is that the policies they learn are opaque to people. To solve this problem, we introduce AI-Interpret: a general method for transforming idiosyncratic policies into simple and interpretable descriptions. Our algorithm combines recent advances in imitation learning and program induction with a new clustering method for identifying a large subset of demonstrations that can be accurately described by a simple, high-performing decision rule. We evaluate our new AI-Interpret algorithm and employ it to translate information-acquisition policies discovered through metalevel reinforcement learning. The results of three large behavioral experiments showed that the provision of decision rules as flowcharts significantly improved people’s planning strategies and decisions across three different classes of sequential decision problems. Furthermore, a series of ablation studies confirmed that our AI-Interpret algorithm was critical to the discovery of interpretable decision rules and that it is ready to be applied to other reinforcement learning problems. We conclude that the methods and findings presented in this article are an important step towards leveraging automatic strategy discovery to improve human decision-making.

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Automatic Discovery of Interpretable Planning Strategies The code for our algorithm and the experiments is available [BibTex]


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Advancing Rational Analysis to the Algorithmic Level

Lieder, F., Griffiths, T. L.

Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 43, E27, March 2020 (article)

Abstract
The commentaries raised questions about normativity, human rationality, cognitive architectures, cognitive constraints, and the scope or resource rational analysis (RRA). We respond to these questions and clarify that RRA is a methodological advance that extends the scope of rational modeling to understanding cognitive processes, why they differ between people, why they change over time, and how they could be improved.

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Advancing rational analysis to the algorithmic level DOI [BibTex]

Advancing rational analysis to the algorithmic level DOI [BibTex]


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Learning to Overexert Cognitive Control in a Stroop Task

Bustamante, L., Lieder, F., Musslick, S., Shenhav, A., Cohen, J.

Febuary 2020, Laura Bustamante and Falk Lieder contributed equally to this publication. (article) In revision

Abstract
How do people learn when to allocate how much cognitive control to which task? According to the Learned Value of Control (LVOC) model, people learn to predict the value of alternative control allocations from features of a given situation. This suggests that people may generalize the value of control learned in one situation to other situations with shared features, even when the demands for cognitive control are different. This makes the intriguing prediction that what a person learned in one setting could, under some circumstances, cause them to misestimate the need for, and potentially over-exert control in another setting, even if this harms their performance. To test this prediction, we had participants perform a novel variant of the Stroop task in which, on each trial, they could choose to either name the color (more control-demanding) or read the word (more automatic). However only one of these tasks was rewarded, it changed from trial to trial, and could be predicted by one or more of the stimulus features (the color and/or the word). Participants first learned colors that predicted the rewarded task. Then they learned words that predicted the rewarded task. In the third part of the experiment, we tested how these learned feature associations transferred to novel stimuli with some overlapping features. The stimulus-task-reward associations were designed so that for certain combinations of stimuli the transfer of learned feature associations would incorrectly predict that more highly rewarded task would be color naming, which would require the exertion of control, even though the actually rewarded task was word reading and therefore did not require the engagement of control. Our results demonstrated that participants over-exerted control for these stimuli, providing support for the feature-based learning mechanism described by the LVOC model.

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Learning to Overexert Cognitive Control in a Stroop Task DOI [BibTex]

Learning to Overexert Cognitive Control in a Stroop Task DOI [BibTex]


Toward a Formal Theory of Proactivity
Toward a Formal Theory of Proactivity

Lieder, F., Iwama, G.

January 2020 (article) Submitted

Abstract
Beyond merely reacting to their environment and impulses, people have the remarkable capacity to proactively set and pursue their own goals. But the extent to which they leverage this capacity varies widely across people and situations. The goal of this article is to make the mechanisms and variability of proactivity more amenable to rigorous experiments and computational modeling. We proceed in three steps. First, we develop and validate a mathematically precise behavioral measure of proactivity and reactivity that can be applied across a wide range of experimental paradigms. Second, we propose a formal definition of proactivity and reactivity, and develop a computational model of proactivity in the AX Continuous Performance Task (AX-CPT). Third, we develop and test a computational-level theory of meta-control over proactivity in the AX-CPT that identifies three distinct meta-decision-making problems: intention setting, resolving response conflict between intentions and automaticity, and deciding whether to recall context and intentions into working memory. People's response frequencies in the AX-CPT were remarkably well captured by a mixture between the predictions of our models of proactive and reactive control. Empirical data from an experiment varying the incentives and contextual load of an AX-CPT confirmed the predictions of our meta-control model of individual differences in proactivity. Our results suggest that proactivity can be understood in terms of computational models of meta-control. Our model makes additional empirically testable predictions. Future work will extend our models from proactive control in the AX-CPT to proactive goal creation and goal pursuit in the real world.

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Toward a formal theory of proactivity DOI Project Page [BibTex]


Thermal Effects on the Crystallization Kinetics, and Interfacial Adhesion of Single-Crystal Phase-Change Gallium
Thermal Effects on the Crystallization Kinetics, and Interfacial Adhesion of Single-Crystal Phase-Change Gallium

Yunusa, M., Lahlou, A., Sitti, M.

Advanced Materials, Wiley Online Library, 2020 (article)

Abstract
Although substrates play an important role upon crystallization of supercooled liquids, the influences of surface temperature and thermal property have remained elusive. Here, the crystallization of supercooled phase‐change gallium (Ga) on substrates with different thermal conductivity is studied. The effect of interfacial temperature on the crystallization kinetics, which dictates thermo‐mechanical stresses between the substrate and the crystallized Ga, is investigated. At an elevated surface temperature, close to the melting point of Ga, an extended single‐crystal growth of Ga on dielectric substrates due to layering effect and annealing is realized without the application of external fields. Adhesive strength at the interfaces depends on the thermal conductivity and initial surface temperature of the substrates. This insight can be applicable to other liquid metals for industrial applications, and sheds more light on phase‐change memory crystallization.

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[BibTex]


Nanoerythrosome-functionalized biohybrid microswimmers
Nanoerythrosome-functionalized biohybrid microswimmers

Buss, N., Yasa, O., Alapan, Y., Akolpoglu, M. B., Sitti, M.

APL Bioengineering, 4, AIP Publishing LLC, 2020 (article)

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[BibTex]

[BibTex]


Injectable Nanoelectrodes Enable Wireless Deep Brain Stimulation of Native Tissue in Freely Moving Mice
Injectable Nanoelectrodes Enable Wireless Deep Brain Stimulation of Native Tissue in Freely Moving Mice

Kozielski, K. L., Jahanshahi, A., Gilbert, H. B., Yu, Y., Erin, O., Francisco, D., Alosaimi, F., Temel, Y., Sitti, M.

bioRxiv, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, 2020 (article)

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[BibTex]

[BibTex]


Magnetically Actuated Soft Capsule Endoscope for Fine-Needle Biopsy
Magnetically Actuated Soft Capsule Endoscope for Fine-Needle Biopsy

Son, D., Gilbert, H., Sitti, M.

Soft robotics, Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., publishers 140 Huguenot Street, 3rd Floor New …, 2020 (article)

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[BibTex]

[BibTex]


Mechanical coupling of puller and pusher active microswimmers influences motility
Mechanical coupling of puller and pusher active microswimmers influences motility

Singh, A. V., Kishore, V., Santamauro, G., Yasa, O., Bill, J., Sitti, M.

Langmuir, ACS Publications, 2020 (article)

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[BibTex]


Microribbons composed of directionally self-assembled nanoflakes as highly stretchable ionic neural electrodes
Microribbons composed of directionally self-assembled nanoflakes as highly stretchable ionic neural electrodes

Zhang, M., Guo, R., Chen, K., Wang, Y., Niu, J., Guo, Y., Zhang, Y., Yin, Z., Xia, K., Zhou, B., Wang, H., He, W., Liu, J., Sitti, M., Zhang, Y.

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Sciences, 2020 (article)

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link (url) DOI [BibTex]

link (url) DOI [BibTex]


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Analytical classical density functionals from an equation learning network

Lin, S., Martius, G., Oettel, M.

The Journal of Chemical Physics, 152(2):021102, 2020, arXiv preprint \url{https://arxiv.org/abs/1910.12752} (article)

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Preprint_PDF DOI [BibTex]

Preprint_PDF DOI [BibTex]


Controlling two-dimensional collective formation and cooperative behavior of magnetic microrobot swarms
Controlling two-dimensional collective formation and cooperative behavior of magnetic microrobot swarms

Dong, X., Sitti, M.

The International Journal of Robotics Research, 2020 (article)

Abstract
Magnetically actuated mobile microrobots can access distant, enclosed, and small spaces, such as inside microfluidic channels and the human body, making them appealing for minimally invasive tasks. Despite their simplicity when scaling down, creating collective microrobots that can work closely and cooperatively, as well as reconfigure their formations for different tasks, would significantly enhance their capabilities such as manipulation of objects. However, a challenge of realizing such cooperative magnetic microrobots is to program and reconfigure their formations and collective motions with under-actuated control signals. This article presents a method of controlling 2D static and time-varying formations among collective self-repelling ferromagnetic microrobots (100 μm to 350 μm in diameter, up to 260 in number) by spatially and temporally programming an external magnetic potential energy distribution at the air–water interface or on solid surfaces. A general design method is introduced to program external magnetic potential energy using ferromagnets. A predictive model of the collective system is also presented to predict the formation and guide the design procedure. With the proposed method, versatile complex static formations are experimentally demonstrated and the programmability and scaling effects of formations are analyzed. We also demonstrate the collective mobility of these magnetic microrobots by controlling them to exhibit bio-inspired collective behaviors such as aggregation, directional motion with arbitrary swarm headings, and rotational swarming motion. Finally, the functions of the produced microrobotic swarm are demonstrated by controlling them to navigate through cluttered environments and complete reconfigurable cooperative manipulation tasks.

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DOI [BibTex]


Magnetic Resonance Imaging System--Driven Medical Robotics
Magnetic Resonance Imaging System–Driven Medical Robotics

Erin, O., Boyvat, M., Tiryaki, M. E., Phelan, M., Sitti, M.

Advanced Intelligent Systems, 2, Wiley Online Library, 2020 (article)

Abstract
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) system–driven medical robotics is an emerging field that aims to use clinical MRI systems not only for medical imaging but also for actuation, localization, and control of medical robots. Submillimeter scale resolution of MR images for soft tissues combined with the electromagnetic gradient coil–based magnetic actuation available inside MR scanners can enable theranostic applications of medical robots for precise image‐guided minimally invasive interventions. MRI‐driven robotics typically does not introduce new MRI instrumentation for actuation but instead focuses on converting already available instrumentation for robotic purposes. To use the advantages of this technology, various medical devices such as untethered mobile magnetic robots and tethered active catheters have been designed to be powered magnetically inside MRI systems. Herein, the state‐of‐the‐art progress, challenges, and future directions of MRI‐driven medical robotic systems are reviewed.

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[BibTex]

[BibTex]


Characterization and Thermal Management of a DC Motor-Driven Resonant Actuator for Miniature Mobile Robots with Oscillating Limbs
Characterization and Thermal Management of a DC Motor-Driven Resonant Actuator for Miniature Mobile Robots with Oscillating Limbs

Colmenares, D., Kania, R., Liu, M., Sitti, M.

arXiv preprint arXiv:2002.00798, 2020 (article)

Abstract
In this paper, we characterize the performance of and develop thermal management solutions for a DC motor-driven resonant actuator developed for flapping wing micro air vehicles. The actuator, a DC micro-gearmotor connected in parallel with a torsional spring, drives reciprocal wing motion. Compared to the gearmotor alone, this design increased torque and power density by 161.1% and 666.8%, respectively, while decreasing the drawn current by 25.8%. Characterization of the actuator, isolated from nonlinear aerodynamic loading, results in standard metrics directly comparable to other actuators. The micro-motor, selected for low weight considerations, operates at high power for limited duration due to thermal effects. To predict system performance, a lumped parameter thermal circuit model was developed. Critical model parameters for this micro-motor, two orders of magnitude smaller than those previously characterized, were identified experimentally. This included the effects of variable winding resistance, bushing friction, speed-dependent forced convection, and the addition of a heatsink. The model was then used to determine a safe operation envelope for the vehicle and to design a weight-optimal heatsink. This actuator design and thermal modeling approach could be applied more generally to improve the performance of any miniature mobile robot or device with motor-driven oscillating limbs or loads.

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[BibTex]


Pros and Cons: Magnetic versus Optical Microrobots
Pros and Cons: Magnetic versus Optical Microrobots

Sitti, M., Wiersma, D. S.

Advanced Materials, Wiley Online Library, 2020 (article)

Abstract
Mobile microrobotics has emerged as a new robotics field within the last decade to create untethered tiny robots that can access and operate in unprecedented, dangerous, or hard‐to‐reach small spaces noninvasively toward disruptive medical, biotechnology, desktop manufacturing, environmental remediation, and other potential applications. Magnetic and optical actuation methods are the most widely used actuation methods in mobile microrobotics currently, in addition to acoustic and biological (cell‐driven) actuation approaches. The pros and cons of these actuation methods are reported here, depending on the given context. They can both enable long‐range, fast, and precise actuation of single or a large number of microrobots in diverse environments. Magnetic actuation has unique potential for medical applications of microrobots inside nontransparent tissues at high penetration depths, while optical actuation is suitable for more biotechnology, lab‐/organ‐on‐a‐chip, and desktop manufacturing types of applications with much less surface penetration depth requirements or with transparent environments. Combining both methods in new robot designs can have a strong potential of combining the pros of both methods. There is still much progress needed in both actuation methods to realize the potential disruptive applications of mobile microrobots in real‐world conditions.

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[BibTex]

[BibTex]


Selectively Controlled Magnetic Microrobots with Opposing Helices
Selectively Controlled Magnetic Microrobots with Opposing Helices

Giltinan, J., Katsamba, P., Wang, W., Lauga, E., Sitti, M.

Applied Physics Letters, 116, AIP Publishing LLC, 2020 (article)

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[BibTex]

[BibTex]


Microscale Polarization Color Pixels from Liquid Crystal Elastomers
Microscale Polarization Color Pixels from Liquid Crystal Elastomers

Guo, Y., Shahsavan, H., Sitti, M.

Advanced Optical Materials, Wiley Online Library, 2020 (article)

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[BibTex]

[BibTex]


Wearable and Stretchable Strain Sensors: Materials, Sensing Mechanisms, and Applications
Wearable and Stretchable Strain Sensors: Materials, Sensing Mechanisms, and Applications

Souri, H., Banerjee, H., Jusufi, A., Radacsi, N., Stokes, A. A., Park, I., Sitti, M., Amjadi, M.

Advanced Intelligent Systems, 2020 (article)

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link (url) DOI [BibTex]

link (url) DOI [BibTex]


Ultrasound-guided Wireless Tubular Robotic Anchoring System
Ultrasound-guided Wireless Tubular Robotic Anchoring System

Wang, T., Hu, W., Ren, Z., Sitti, M.

IEEE Robotics and Automation Letters, 5, pages: 4859 - 4866, IEEE, 2020 (article)

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link (url) DOI [BibTex]

link (url) DOI [BibTex]


Cohesive self-organization of mobile microrobotic swarms
Cohesive self-organization of mobile microrobotic swarms

Yigit, B., Alapan, Y., Sitti, M.

arXiv preprint arXiv:1907.05856, 2020 (article)

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[BibTex]

[BibTex]


Bio-inspired Flexible Twisting Wings Increase Lift and Efficiency of a Flapping Wing Micro Air Vehicle
Bio-inspired Flexible Twisting Wings Increase Lift and Efficiency of a Flapping Wing Micro Air Vehicle

Colmenares, D., Kania, R., Zhang, W., Sitti, M.

arXiv preprint arXiv:2001.11586, 2020 (article)

Abstract
We investigate the effect of wing twist flexibility on lift and efficiency of a flapping-wing micro air vehicle capable of liftoff. Wings used previously were chosen to be fully rigid due to modeling and fabrication constraints. However, biological wings are highly flexible and other micro air vehicles have successfully utilized flexible wing structures for specialized tasks. The goal of our study is to determine if dynamic twisting of flexible wings can increase overall aerodynamic lift and efficiency. A flexible twisting wing design was found to increase aerodynamic efficiency by 41.3%, translational lift production by 35.3%, and the effective lift coefficient by 63.7% compared to the rigid-wing design. These results exceed the predictions of quasi-steady blade element models, indicating the need for unsteady computational fluid dynamics simulations of twisted flapping wings.

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[BibTex]

[BibTex]


Acoustically powered surface-slipping mobile microrobots
Acoustically powered surface-slipping mobile microrobots

Aghakhani, A., Yasa, O., Wrede, P., Sitti, M.

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 117, National Acad Sciences, 2020 (article)

Abstract
Untethered synthetic microrobots have significant potential to revolutionize minimally invasive medical interventions in the future. However, their relatively slow speed and low controllability near surfaces typically are some of the barriers standing in the way of their medical applications. Here, we introduce acoustically powered microrobots with a fast, unidirectional surface-slipping locomotion on both flat and curved surfaces. The proposed three-dimensionally printed, bullet-shaped microrobot contains a spherical air bubble trapped inside its internal body cavity, where the bubble is resonated using acoustic waves. The net fluidic flow due to the bubble oscillation orients the microrobot's axisymmetric axis perpendicular to the wall and then propels it laterally at very high speeds (up to 90 body lengths per second with a body length of 25 µm) while inducing an attractive force toward the wall. To achieve unidirectional locomotion, a small fin is added to the microrobot’s cylindrical body surface, which biases the propulsion direction. For motion direction control, the microrobots are coated anisotropically with a soft magnetic nanofilm layer, allowing steering under a uniform magnetic field. Finally, surface locomotion capability of the microrobots is demonstrated inside a three-dimensional circular cross-sectional microchannel under acoustic actuation. Overall, the combination of acoustic powering and magnetic steering can be effectively utilized to actuate and navigate these microrobots in confined and hard-to-reach body location areas in a minimally invasive fashion.

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[BibTex]

[BibTex]


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Morphology-Dependent Immunogenicity Obliges a Compromise on the Locomotion-Focused Design of Medical Microrobots

Ceren, , Hakan, , Ugur, , Anna-Maria, , Metin,

Science Robotics, 2020 (article) Accepted

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[BibTex]

[BibTex]


Selection for Function: From Chemically Synthesized Prototypes to 3D-Printed Microdevices
Selection for Function: From Chemically Synthesized Prototypes to 3D-Printed Microdevices

Bachmann, F., Giltinan, J., Codutti, A., Klumpp, S., Sitti, M., Faivre, D.

Advanced Intelligent Systems, 2020 (article)

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[BibTex]

[BibTex]


Biosynthetic self-healing materials for soft machines
Biosynthetic self-healing materials for soft machines

Pena-Francesch, A., Jung, H., Demirel, M. C., Sitti, M.

Nature Materials , 2020 (article)

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DOI [BibTex]

DOI [BibTex]


Bioinspired underwater locomotion of light-driven liquid crystal gels
Bioinspired underwater locomotion of light-driven liquid crystal gels

Shahsavan, H., Aghakhani, A., Zeng, H., Guo, Y., Davidson, Z. S., Priimagi, A., Sitti, M.

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, National Acad Sciences, 2020 (article)

Abstract
Untethered dynamic shape programming and control of soft materials have significant applications in technologies such as soft robots, medical devices, organ-on-a-chip, and optical devices. Here, we present a solution to remotely actuate and move soft materials underwater in a fast, efficient, and controlled manner using photoresponsive liquid crystal gels (LCGs). LCG constructs with engineered molecular alignment show a low and sharp phase-transition temperature and experience considerable density reduction by light exposure, thereby allowing rapid and reversible shape changes. We demonstrate different modes of underwater locomotion, such as crawling, walking, jumping, and swimming, by localized and time-varying illumination of LCGs. The diverse locomotion modes of smart LCGs can provide a new toolbox for designing efficient light-fueled soft robots in fluid-immersed media.

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[BibTex]

[BibTex]


Additive manufacturing of cellulose-based materials with continuous, multidirectional stiffness gradients
Additive manufacturing of cellulose-based materials with continuous, multidirectional stiffness gradients

Giachini, P., Gupta, S., Wang, W., Wood, D., Yunusa, M., Baharlou, E., Sitti, M., Menges, A.

Science Advances, 6, American Association for the Advancement of Science, 2020 (article)

Abstract
Functionally graded materials (FGMs) enable applications in fields such as biomedicine and architecture, but their fabrication suffers from shortcomings in gradient continuity, interfacial bonding, and directional freedom. In addition, most commercial design software fail to incorporate property gradient data, hindering explorations of the design space of FGMs. Here, we leveraged a combined approach of materials engineering and digital processing to enable extrusion-based multimaterial additive manufacturing of cellulose-based tunable viscoelastic materials with continuous, high-contrast, and multidirectional stiffness gradients. A method to engineer sets of cellulose-based materials with similar compositions, yet distinct mechanical and rheological properties, was established. In parallel, a digital workflow was developed to embed gradient information into design models with integrated fabrication path planning. The payoff of integrating these physical and digital tools is the ability to achieve the same stiffness gradient in multiple ways, opening design possibilities previously limited by the rigid coupling of material and geometry.

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[BibTex]

[BibTex]


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Introducing Progress in Biomedical Engineering; Issue 2 Vol 2

Sitti, M.

Progress in Biomedical Engineering, IOP Publishing, 2020 (article)

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[BibTex]

[BibTex]


Multi-wavelength steerable visible light-driven magnetic CoO-TiO2 microswimmers
Multi-wavelength steerable visible light-driven magnetic CoO-TiO2 microswimmers

Sridhar, V., Park, B., Guo, S., van Aken, P. A., Sitti, M.

ACS Applied Materials \& Interfaces, ACS Publications, 2020 (article)

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[BibTex]

[BibTex]

2016


Bioengineered and biohybrid bacteria-based systems for drug delivery
Bioengineered and biohybrid bacteria-based systems for drug delivery

Hosseinidoust, Z., Mostaghaci, B., Yasa, O., Park, B., Singh, A. V., Sitti, M.

Advanced Drug Delivery Reviews, 106, pages: 27-44, Elsevier, November 2016 (article)

Abstract
The use of bacterial cells as agents of medical therapy has a long history. Research that was ignited over a century ago with the accidental infection of cancer patients has matured into a platform technology that offers the promise of opening up new potential frontiers in medical treatment. Bacterial cells exhibit unique characteristics that make them well-suited as smart drug delivery agents. Our ability to genetically manipulate the molecular machinery of these cells enables the customization of their therapeutic action as well as its precise tuning and spatio-temporal control, allowing for the design of unique, complex therapeutic functions, unmatched by current drug delivery systems. Early results have been promising, but there are still many important challenges that must be addressed. We present a review of promises and challenges of employing bioengineered bacteria in drug delivery systems and introduce the biohybrid design concept as a new additional paradigm in bacteria-based drug delivery.

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DOI Project Page [BibTex]

2016


DOI Project Page [BibTex]


A 5-D localization method for a magnetically manipulated untethered robot using a 2-D array of Hall-effect sensors
A 5-D localization method for a magnetically manipulated untethered robot using a 2-D array of Hall-effect sensors

Son, D., Yim, S., Sitti, M.

IEEE/ASME Transactions on Mechatronics, 21(2):708-716, IEEE, October 2016 (article)

Abstract
This paper introduces a new five-dimensional localization method for an untethered meso-scale magnetic robot, which is manipulated by a computer-controlled electromagnetic system. The developed magnetic localization setup is a two-dimensional array of mono-axial Hall-effect sensors, which measure the perpendicular magnetic fields at their given positions. We introduce two steps for localizing a magnetic robot more accurately. First, the dipole modeled magnetic field of the electromagnet is subtracted from the measured data in order to determine the robot's magnetic field. Secondly, the subtracted magnetic field is twice differentiated in the perpendicular direction of the array, so that the effect of the electromagnetic field in the localization process is minimized. Five variables regarding the position and orientation of the robot are determined by minimizing the error between the measured magnetic field and the modeled magnetic field in an optimization method. The resulting position error is 2.1±0.8 mm and angular error is 6.7±4.3° within the applicable range (5 cm) of magnetic field sensors at 200 Hz. The proposed localization method would be used for the position feedback control of untethered magnetic devices or robots for medical applications in the future.

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DOI Project Page [BibTex]

DOI Project Page [BibTex]


High-Performance Multiresponsive Paper Actuators
High-Performance Multiresponsive Paper Actuators

Amjadi, M., Sitti, M.

ACS Nano, 10(11):10202-10210, American Chemical Society, October 2016 (article)

Abstract
There is an increasing demand for soft actuators because of their importance in soft robotics, artificial muscles, biomimetic devices, and beyond. However, the development of soft actuators capable of low-voltage operation, powerful actuation, and programmable shape-changing is still challenging. In this work, we propose programmable bilayer actuators that operate based on the large hygroscopic contraction of the copy paper and simultaneously large thermal expansion of the polypropylene film upon increasing the temperature. The electrothermally activated bending actuators can function with low voltages (≤ 8 V), low input electric power per area (P ≤ 0.14 W cm–2), and low temperature changes (≤ 35 °C). They exhibit reversible shape-changing behavior with curvature radii up to 1.07 cm–1 and bending angle of 360°, accompanied by powerful actuation. Besides the electrical activation, they can be powered by humidity or light irradiation. We finally demonstrate the use of our paper actuators as a soft gripper robot and a lightweight paper wing for aerial robotics.

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DOI Project Page Project Page [BibTex]

DOI Project Page Project Page [BibTex]


Programmable assembly of heterogeneous microparts by an untethered mobile capillary microgripper
Programmable assembly of heterogeneous microparts by an untethered mobile capillary microgripper

Giltinan, J., Diller, E., Sitti, M.

Lab on a Chip, 16(22):4445-4457, Royal Society of Chemistry, October 2016 (article)

Abstract
At the sub-millimeter scale, capillary forces enable robust and reversible adhesion between biological organisms and varied substrates. Current human-engineered mobile untethered micromanipulation systems rely on forces which scale poorly or utilize gripper-part designs that promote manipulation. Capillary forces, alternatively, are dependent upon the surface chemistry (which is scale independent) and contact perimeter, which conforms to the part surface. We report a mobile capillary microgripper that is able to pick and place parts of various materials and geometries, and is thus ideal for microassembly tasks that cannot be accomplished by large tethered manipulators. We achieve the programmable assembly of sub-millimeter parts in an enclosed three-dimensional aqueous environment by creating a capillary bridge between the targeted part and a synthetic, untethered, mobile body. The parts include both hydrophilic and hydrophobic components: hydrogel, kapton, human hair, and biological tissue. The 200 μm untethered system can be controlled with five-degrees-of-freedom and advances progress towards autonomous desktop manufacturing for tissue engineering, complex micromachines, microfluidic devices, and meta-materials.

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DOI Project Page [BibTex]

DOI Project Page [BibTex]


Composition-dependent underwater adhesion of catechol-bearing hydrogels
Composition-dependent underwater adhesion of catechol-bearing hydrogels

Wu, H., Sariola, V., Zhao, J., Ding, H., Sitti, M., Bettinger, C. J.

Polymer International, 65(11):1355-1359, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd, September 2016 (article)

Abstract
Interfacial adhesion-mediated transfer printing processes can integrate functional electronic microstructures with polymeric substrates that are bendable and stretchable. Transfer printing has also been extended to catechol-bearing adhesive hydrogels. This study presents indentation adhesion tests between catechol-bearing hydrogel substrates with catechol concentrations varying from 0 to 10% (mol/mol) and thin-film materials commonly used in microelectronic fabrication including polymers, noble metals and oxides. The results indicate that the interfacial adhesion of catechol-bearing hydrogels is positively correlated with the concentration of catechol-bearing monomers as well as the retraction velocity during transfer printing. This study can inform transfer printing processes for microfabricated structures to compliant hydrated substrates such as hygroscopic monomers, mesoporous polymer networks and hydrogels. © 2016 Society of Chemical Industry

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DOI [BibTex]

DOI [BibTex]


Bacteria-Driven Particles: Patterned and Specific Attachment of Bacteria on Biohybrid Bacteria-Driven Microswimmers (Adv. Healthcare Mater. 18/2016)
Bacteria-Driven Particles: Patterned and Specific Attachment of Bacteria on Biohybrid Bacteria-Driven Microswimmers (Adv. Healthcare Mater. 18/2016)

Singh, A. V., Sitti, M.

Advanced Healthcare Materials, 5(18):2306-2306, September 2016 (article)

Abstract
On page 2325, Ajay Vikram Singh and Metin Sitti propose a facile surface patterning technique and a specific, strong biotin–streptavidin bonding of bacteria on patterned surfaces to fabricate Janus particles that are propelled by the attached bacteria. Such bacteria-driven Janus microswimmers could be used for future medicine in targeted drug delivery and environmental remediation.

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DOI Project Page [BibTex]


The effect of temperature and humidity on adhesion of a gecko-inspired adhesive: implications for the natural system
The effect of temperature and humidity on adhesion of a gecko-inspired adhesive: implications for the natural system

Stark, A. Y., Klittich, M. R., Sitti, M., Niewiarowski, P. H., Dhinojwala, A.

Scientific Reports, 6, pages: 30936, Nature Publishing Group, August 2016 (article)

Abstract
The adhesive system of geckos has inspired hundreds of synthetic adhesives. While this system has been used relentlessly as a source of inspiration, less work has been done in reverse, where synthetics are used to test questions and hypotheses about the natural system. Here we take such an approach. We tested shear adhesion of a mushroom-tipped synthetic gecko adhesive under conditions that produced perplexing results in the natural adhesive system. Synthetic samples were tested at two temperatures (12 °C and 32 °C) and four different humidity levels (30%, 55%, 70%, and 80% RH). Surprisingly, adhesive performance of the synthetic samples matched that of living geckos, suggesting that uncontrolled parameters in the natural system, such as surface chemistry and material changes, may not be as influential in whole-animal performance as previously thought. There was one difference, however, when comparing natural and synthetic adhesive performance. At 12 °C and 80% RH, adhesion of the synthetic structures was lower than expected based on the natural system’s performance. Our approach highlights a unique opportunity for both biologists and material scientists, where new questions and hypotheses can be fueled by joint comparisons of the natural and synthetic systems, ultimately improving knowledge of both.

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DOI [BibTex]

DOI [BibTex]


Magnetic propulsion of robotic sperms at low-Reynolds number
Magnetic propulsion of robotic sperms at low-Reynolds number

Khalil, I. S., Fatih Tabak, A., Klingner, A., Sitti, M.

Applied Physics Letters, 109(3):033701, AIP Publishing, July 2016 (article)

Abstract
We investigate the microswimming behaviour of robotic sperms in viscous fluids. These robotic sperms are fabricated from polystyrene dissolved in dimethyl formamide and iron-oxide nanoparticles. This composition allows the nanoparticles to be concentrated within the bead of the robotic sperm and provide magnetic dipole, whereas the flexibility of the ultra-thin tail enables flagellated locomotion using magnetic fields in millitesla range. We show that these robotic sperms have similar morphology and swimming behaviour to those of sperm cells. Moreover, we show experimentally that our robotic sperms swim controllably at an average speed of approximately one body length per second (around 125 μm s−1), and they are relatively faster than the microswimmers that depend on planar wave propulsion in low-Reynolds number fluids.

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DOI [BibTex]

DOI [BibTex]


Six-degree-of-freedom magnetic actuation for wireless microrobotics
Six-degree-of-freedom magnetic actuation for wireless microrobotics

Diller, E., Giltinan, J., Lum, G. Z., Ye, Z., Sitti, M.

The International Journal of Robotics Research, 35(1-3):114-128, SAGE Publications Sage UK: London, England, June 2016 (article)

Abstract
Existing remotely actuated magnetic microrobots exhibit a maximum of only five-degree-of-freedom (DOF) actuation, as creation of a driving torque about the microrobot magnetization axis is not achievable. This lack of full orientation control limits the effectiveness of existing microrobots for precision tasks of object manipulation and orientation for advanced medical, biological and micromanufacturing applications. This paper presents a magnetic actuation method that allows remotely powered microrobots to achieve full six-DOF actuation by considering the case of a non-uniform magnetization profile within the microrobot body. This non-uniform magnetization allows for additional rigid-body torques to be induced from magnetic forces via a moment arm. A general analytical model presents the working principle for continuous and discrete magnetization profiles, which is applied to permanent or non-permanent (soft) magnet bodies. Several discrete-magnetization designs are also presented which possess reduced coupling between magnetic forces and induced rigid-body torques. Design guidelines are introduced which can be followed to ensure that a magnetic microrobot design is capable of six-DOF actuation. A simple permanent-magnet prototype is fabricated and used to quantitatively demonstrate the accuracy of the analytical model in a constrained-DOF environment and qualitatively for free motion in a viscous liquid three-dimensional environment. Results show that desired forces and torques can be created with high precision and limited parasitic actuation, allowing for full six-DOF actuation using limited feedback control

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DOI [BibTex]

DOI [BibTex]


Gallium Adhesion: Phase Change of Gallium Enables Highly Reversible and Switchable Adhesion (Adv. Mater. 25/2016)
Gallium Adhesion: Phase Change of Gallium Enables Highly Reversible and Switchable Adhesion (Adv. Mater. 25/2016)

Ye, Z., Lum, G. Z., Song, S., Rich, S., Sitti, M.

Advanced Materials, 28(25):5087-5087, May 2016 (article)

Abstract
Gallium exhibits highly reversible and switchable adhesion when it undergoes a solid–liquid phase transition. The robustness of gallium is notable as it exhibits strong performance on a wide range of smooth and rough surfaces, under both dry and wet conditions. Gallium may therefore find numerous applications in transfer printing, robotics, electronic packaging, and biomedicine.

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DOI [BibTex]


Patterned and Specific Attachment of Bacteria on Biohybrid Bacteria-Driven Microswimmers
Patterned and Specific Attachment of Bacteria on Biohybrid Bacteria-Driven Microswimmers

Singh, A. V., Sitti, M.

Advanced Healthcare Materials, 5(18):2325-2331, May 2016 (article)

Abstract
A surface patterning technique and a specific and strong biotin–streptavidin bonding of bacteria on patterned surfaces are proposed to fabricate Janus particles that are propelled by the attached bacteria. Bacteria-driven Janus microswimmers with diameters larger than 3 μm show enhanced mean propulsion speed. Such microswimmers could be used for future applications such as targeted drug delivery and environmental remediation.

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DOI [BibTex]


Shape-programmable magnetic soft matter
Shape-programmable magnetic soft matter

Lum, G. Z., Ye, Z., Dong, X., Marvi, H., Erin, O., Hu, W., Sitti, M.

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 113(41):E6007–E6015, National Acad Sciences, May 2016 (article)

Abstract
Shape-programmable matter is a class of active materials whose geometry can be controlled to potentially achieve mechanical functionalities beyond those of traditional machines. Among these materials, magnetically actuated matter is particularly promising for achieving complex time-varying shapes at small scale (overall dimensions smaller than 1 cm). However, previous work can only program these materials for limited applications, as they rely solely on human intuition to approximate the required magnetization profile and actuating magnetic fields for their materials. Here, we propose a universal programming methodology that can automatically generate the required magnetization profile and actuating fields for soft matter to achieve new time-varying shapes. The universality of the proposed method can therefore inspire a vast number of miniature soft devices that are critical in robotics, smart engineering surfaces and materials, and biomedical devices. Our proposed method includes theoretical formulations, computational strategies, and fabrication procedures for programming magnetic soft matter. The presented theory and computational method are universal for programming 2D or 3D time-varying shapes, whereas the fabrication technique is generic only for creating planar beams. Based on the proposed programming method, we created a jellyfish-like robot, a spermatozoid-like undulating swimmer, and an artificial cilium that could mimic the complex beating patterns of its biological counterpart.

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DOI [BibTex]

DOI [BibTex]


Inflated soft actuators with reversible stable deformations
Inflated soft actuators with reversible stable deformations

Hines, L., Petersen, K., Sitti, M.

Advanced Materials, 28(19):3690-3696, March 2016 (article)

Abstract
Most soft robotic systems are currently dependent on bulky compressors or pumps. A soft actuation method is presented combining hyperelastic membranes and dielectric elastomer actuators to switch between stable deformations of sealed chambers. This method is capable of large repeatable deformations, and has a number of stable states proportional to the number of actuatable membranes in the chamber.

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DOI Project Page [BibTex]


Chemotaxis of bio-hybrid multiple bacteria-driven microswimmers
Chemotaxis of bio-hybrid multiple bacteria-driven microswimmers

Zhuang, J., Sitti, M.

Scientific reports, 6, pages: 32135, Nature Publishing Group, March 2016 (article)

Abstract
In this study, in a bio-hybrid microswimmer system driven by multiple Serratia marcescens bacteria, we quantify the chemotactic drift of a large number of microswimmers towards L-serine and elucidate the associated collective chemotaxis behavior by statistical analysis of over a thousand swimming trajectories of the microswimmers. The results show that the microswimmers have a strong heading preference for moving up the L-serine gradient, while their speed does not change considerably when moving up and down the gradient; therefore, the heading bias constitutes the major factor that produces the chemotactic drift. The heading direction of a microswimmer is found to be significantly more persistent when it moves up the L-serine gradient than when it travels down the gradient; this effect causes the apparent heading preference of the microswimmers and is the crucial reason that enables the seemingly cooperative chemotaxis of multiple bacteria on a microswimmer. In addition, we find that their chemotactic drift velocity increases superquadratically with their mean swimming speed, suggesting that chemotaxis of bio-hybrid microsystems can be enhanced by designing and building faster microswimmers. Such bio-hybrid microswimmers with chemotactic steering capability may find future applications in targeted drug delivery, bioengineering, and lab-on-a-chip devices.

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DOI Project Page [BibTex]

DOI Project Page [BibTex]