Disordered Materials and Robotics
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My research focuses on disordered, particulate materials (e.g., sand and foams) made up of many mesoscale objects (e.g., grains and bubbles) that interact with each other via short range forces. These materials display both liquid- and solid-like behavior, and can be tuned between these states via small changes in external driving. My primary research interest is in fundamental descriptions of how disordered materials behave near the fluid-solid boundary. I am especially interested in uniting particle-scale properties (e.g., shape and roughness) to tunable macroscopic behaviors (e.g., geometric entanglement and cohesion, or enhanced shock absorption). There are many basic, unanswered questions about these materials that, if answered, would bear direct relevance to robotics applications. For example, robotic locomotion over desert sand, lunar soil, or other kinds of complex terrain requires better understanding of the nonlinear interactions between intruders and granular media. Soft materials (e.g., foams, gels, and polymer melts) can be used as (or in conjunction with) actuators to make super efficient robotic grippers. Additionally, swarms of robots can be thought of as soft, active materials themselves, and many of the theoretical tools for describing fluid-solid transitions for systems of particles may also be useful for developing optimal swarming strategies.
CRUSER TechCon 2018 Research at NPS. Wednesday 3: ApplicationsIncludes suppmentary material: Clark media1.mov, Clark media2.mov; Clark media3.mov
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