My multidisciplinary research interests include Flexible and Printable Electronics, Electronic Skin, Robotic Tactile Sensing, Bendable electronics device modelling, Micro/Macroelectronics and System Integration. Details of my group’s research are available at BEST Group Website. Recently my BEST Group has launched its YouTube Channel where videos, demos and animations from some of these projects are available. Some of my project are described below.
Major Current Projects:
1. PRINTSKIN – EPSRC Fellowship for Growth – Printable Tactile Skin.
PRINTSKIN will develop a robust ultra-flexible tactile skin using an innovative methodology involving printing of high-mobility materials such as silicon on ultra-flexible substrates such as polyimide. The tactile skin will have solid-state sensors (touch, temperature) and electronics printed on ultra-flexible substrates such as polyimide. The silicon based ultra-thin active-matrix electronics in the backplane will be covered with a replaceable soft transducer layer. The skin will be validated on the state-of-the-art robotic hands. This new technological platform to print tactile skin will enable an entirely new generation of high-performance and cost-effective systems on flexible substrates.
2. North West Centre for Advanced Manufacturing (NWCAM) – EU funded project.
NWCAM will integrate electronic devices and circuits on papers which are used in applications such as packaging, and labels etc. The research will be carried out in close collaboration with relevant companies in Scotland and Ireland.
3. FLEXI-G – EU funded Marie Curie Fellowship Project.
The efforts related to combating counterfeits can get a boost if GMR (Giant Magnetoresistance) sensors can be realized on the paper of the currency note or cheques and the plastic of credit card. To this end, FLEXI-G will fabricate flexible GMR sensor on paper using FeCo and Cu nanoparticles and open new application for flexible electronics.
4. ELECTROHEAL – EU funded Marie Curie Fellowship Project.
Wound healing can be accelerated by using wound dressing impregnated with biochemical agents and biophysical methods such as electrical stimulation. To this end, ELECTROHEAL will develop develop a simple, cost effective and disposable wound dressing or bandage to accelerate the wound healing process.
5. BEND – EU funded Marie Curie Fellowship Project.
BEND will develop a robust and scalable method for generating large number of mature, differentiated neuronal cells for the development of interfaces for implantable bioelectronics and to compensate neuronal loss in the degenerative disease or injuries. To this end, the electrically controlled neuronal differentiation of stem cells on a soft, bendable electro conductive substrate will be studied.
6. Wearable Blood Pressure Monitoring Device – Newton Fellowship Project.
This project will develop a wearable heartbeat and blood pressure (BP) self-monitoring device on flexible or conformable substrates. The device (a smart wristband) will continuously measure the displacement caused by the periodic dilation of the over-pressured dorsal carpal branch of the radial artery (DCRA) at the wrist and transform the signal into a measurable output current. The device comprises of an array of graphene based displacement sensors or ‘pressure pixels’, which measure the out-of-plane displacement of the DCRA for each PP, and thereby determine the heartbeat, BP and velocity of blood flow.
Major Past Projects:
7. ‘FLEXELDEMO’ – Flexible Electronic Device Modelling.
Flexible electronic research has thus far focussed on exploring several materials and fabrication techniques. Whilst these are important areas, device modelling and circuit design are critical to take the research closer to manufacturing. The acceptable degree of bendability for reliable operation of devices and circuits is a question that has not been addressed so far. This is a challenging because the standard transistor models for circuit simulation programs such as SPICE do not take into account the dynamic bendability induced effects. FLEXELDEMO addressed these challenges by systematically characterizing the ultra-thin chips, identifying various parameters that change with bending, and suggesting improved BSIM models for devices over bendable substrates.
8. ‘CONTEST’– EU funded Marie Curie ITN project (Webpage – http://www.contest-itn.eu)
This Innovative Training Network (ITN) trained 18 young researchers and investigated the various critical aspects related to flexible electronics to obtain an electronically-enhanced and wearable smart skin for robotic applications. The silicon and organic materials based solutions were investigated to obtain systems with the advantages of both. BEST group members explored different techniques to integrate silicon and graphene based device on flexible substrates and obtaining reliable operation.
9.FLEXSENSOTRONICS– EU Funded Marie Curie Fellowship project.
The aim of this project was to develop method for transferring Si based macro/micro/nanostructures on physically flexible substrates to develop sensitive electronic systems for wearable electronic skin applications. The challenges included processing and combining stiff and brittle device materials with soft and compliant substrates while ensuring proper electrical functionality of the devices (when they undergo mechanical deformations). The two methodologies adopted in this project are:
(a) Microstructures based approach: The micro/nanostructures such and micro/nanowires and ribbons are obtained using top-down fabrication method. These micro/nanostructures are then transferred printed onto flexible subtrates in such as way that they result in electronics devices and circuits. Some results are shown in the figures below:
(b) Ultra-thin Flex-Chip Approach: The ultra-thin and mechanically flexible silicon chips are obtained by thinning down the conventional wafers and the transferring the these chips to flexible substrates. This Flex-Chip approach is complimentary to the micro/nanostructures based approach. Some results are shown in the figures below:
10. POSFET Tactile Sensing Arrays
The goal of this project was to develop POSFET (Piezoelectric Oxide Semiconductor Field Effect Transistor) tactile sensing arrays using piezoelectric polymers and MOS transistor. A reliable fabrication process, including the deposition, patterning and poling of piezoelectric polymer films on a silicon chip, was developed for fabricating the high resolution tactile sensing arrays. The POSFET research has now advanced towards tactile sensing system on-chip – with tactile sensing arrays and on-chip basic electronics. Some results are shown in the figures below:
11. Italian MIUR PRIN-2007 Project
The aim of this project was to develop POSFET touch sensing devices based tactile sensing system including interface electronics for the humanoid robot ‘i-cub‘.
12. ROBOSKIN – EU funded Project.
ROBOSKIN developed new sensor technologies to provide tactile feedback
from large areas of a robot’s body and demonstrated a range of new robot capabilities based on robot skin tactile feedback.
13. RobotCub – EU Funded Project (Webpage – http://www.robotcub.org)