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Multifunctional Soft Materials for Electronics and Adhesives

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

2:30pm – 3:45pm

Virtual via zoom (register by clicking here), Virginia Tech Campus

Michael Bartlett

Department of Mechanical Engineering

Virginia Tech


Multifunctional soft materials and interfaces create intriguing new opportunities to enhance performance through programmable and adaptable properties. I will discuss: 1) Novel material architectures of solid-liquid soft composites, and 2) Switchable adhesives through programmable structures and stiffness. For soft composites, I will show how liquid metal droplets incorporated into elastomers enables exceptional combinations of soft elasticity and electrical and thermal properties with extreme toughness, autonomously self-healing circuits, and damage detection. For switchable adhesives, I will present a framework for designing adhesives through kirigami, the Japanese art of paper cutting, and pneumatically controlled soft membranes. By incorporating kirigami at interfaces, we can enhance adhesive force while tuning anisotropy for high capacity yet easy release interfaces. Through pneumatically controlled shape and rigidity tuning we rapidly switch adhesion with measured switching ratios as high as 1300x. These approaches provide model systems to study fundamental material properties while enabling soft matter technologies.


Michael Bartlett is an Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Virginia Tech. His research focuses on soft multifunctional materials for deformable electronics and soft robotics, adaptive materials, and 'smart' adhesives. He received his BSE in Materials Science and Engineering from Michigan in 2008 and a Ph.D. in Polymer Science and Engineering from UMass Amherst in 2013. His research has resulted in publications, patents, media coverage, and awards including a DARPA Young Faculty Award and Director's Fellowship, the Early Career Scientist Award from the Adhesion Society, a 3M Non-Tenured Faculty Award, and an Outstanding Faculty Award (student nominated). More at: