Publications by authors named "Elias M Knubben"

2 Publications

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Octopus Arm-Inspired Tapered Soft Actuators with Suckers for Improved Grasping.

Soft Robot 2020 Oct 25;7(5):639-648. Epub 2020 Feb 25.

School of Mechanical Engineering and Automation, Beihang University, Beijing, China.

Octopuses can employ their tapered arms to catch prey of all shapes and sizes due to their dexterity, flexibility, and gripping power. Intrigued by variability in arm taper angle between different octopus species, we explored the utility of designing soft actuators exhibiting a distinctive conical geometry, compared with more traditional cylindrical forms. We find that these octopus-inspired conical-shaped actuators exhibit a wide range of bending curvatures that can be tuned by simply altering their taper angle and they also demonstrate greater flexibility compared with their cylindrical counterparts. The taper angle and bending curvature are inversely related, whereas taper angle and applied bending force are directly related. To further expand the functionality of our soft actuators, we incorporated vacuum-actuated suckers into the actuators for the production of a fully integrated octopus arm-inspired gripper. Notably, our results reveal that because of their enhanced flexibility, these tapered actuators with suckers have better gripping power than their cylindrical-shaped counterparts and require significantly larger forces to be detached from both flat and curved surfaces. Finally, we show that by choosing appropriate taper angles, our tapered actuators with suckers can grip, move, and place a remarkably wide range of objects with flat, nonplanar, smooth, or rough surfaces, as well as retrieve objects through narrow openings. The results from this study not only provide new design insights into the creation of next-generation soft actuators for gripping a wide range of morphologically diverse objects but also contribute to our understanding of the functional significance of arm taper angle variability across octopus species.
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October 2020

Complex multiphase organohydrogels with programmable mechanics toward adaptive soft-matter machines.

Sci Adv 2020 Jan 31;6(5):eaax1464. Epub 2020 Jan 31.

Key Laboratory of Bio-Inspired Smart Interfacial Science and Technology of Ministry of Education, School of Chemistry, Beihang University, Beijing 100191, P. R. China.

Many biological organisms can tune their mechanical properties to adapt to environments in multistable modes, but the current synthetic materials, with bistable states, have a limited ability to alter mechanical stiffness. Here, we constructed programmable organohydrogels with multistable mechanical states by an on-demand modular assembly of noneutectic phase transition components inside microrganogel inclusions. The resultant multiphase organohydrogel exhibits precisely controllable thermo-induced stepwise switching (i.e., triple, quadruple, and quintuple switching) mechanics and a self-healing property. The organohydrogel was introduced into the design of soft-matter machines, yielding a soft gripper with adaptive grasping through stiffness matching with various objects under pneumatic-thermal hybrid actuation. Meanwhile, a programmable adhesion of octopus-inspired robotic tentacles on a wide range of surface morphologies was realized. These results demonstrated the applicability of these organohydrogels in lifelike soft robotics in unconstructed and human body environments.
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January 2020