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CBES: Center for Bio-Inspired Energy Science

George Whitesides

  • Woodford L. and Ann A. Flowers University Professor of Chemistry
PhD (1964), California Institute of Technology

The Whitesides lab works on highly bio-inspired soft robotics involving structures in the size range of millimeters to hundreds of centimeters. Activities include developing biomimetic, mesoscale actuators modeled on simple organisms (starfish, worms) and more broadly organisms without internal skeletons (octopods, insects). This approach contrasts with conventional “hard” robotics, made of structurally hard materials and designed for high force and speed, but which have severe limitations in many future manufacturing or service applications involving contact with people or fragile objects. 

Whitesides pioneered developing “soft” systems by using elastomers and structurally flexible elements that can address some of these limitations. This work has motivated his team to move to the microscopic and even molecular-length scales to explore the design of autonomous robotic soft matter. Their expertise is helping to develop porous actuating materials with faster or more complex responses and top-down synthesis of microstructures inspired by geckos and insect foot hairs. 

Key Publications

Soft Robotics
Whitesides, G.M.
Angew. Chem. Int. Ed.57,2018, 4258-4273. 

Nemiroski, A., Shevchenko, Y.Y., Stokes, A.A., Unal, B., Ainla, A., Albert, S., Compton, G., MacDonald, E., Schwab, Y., Zellhofer, C., Whitesides, G.M.
Soft Robotics4,2017, 183-190.

Buckling of Elastomeric Beams Enables Actuation of Soft Machines
Yang, D., Mosadegh, B., Ainla, A., Lee, B., Khashai, F., Suo, Z., Bertoldi, K., Whitesides, G.M.
Adv. Mater.27,2015, 6323. 

CBES Publications

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