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Distributed Information Processing in Materials that Think

Event Details

Event Dates: 

Wednesday, September 11, 2013 - 4:00pm

Seminar Location: 

  • Duane Physics Room G1B20

Speaker Name(s): 

Nikolaus Correll

Speaker Affiliation(s): 

University of Colorado, Boulder
Seminar Type/Subject

Scientific Seminar Type: 

  • Physics Department Colloquium

Event Details & Abstract: 

Materials that think are enabled by recent advances in smart polymers, desktop manufacturing systems and miniaturization of computers.  These materials tightly integrate sensing, actuation, computation and communication in a periodic, amorphous fashion, which might enable revolutionary new composites with fully programmable capabilities.  The challenges in creating materials that think lie at the intersection of material science engineering and computer science, and - from a CS perspective - require advances in distributed algorithms for signal processing, control and routing of information.  I illustrate these challenges and recent advances by our group using three experimental case studies, all using identical computational infrastructure: (1) a soft robotic skin that can locate and classify textures by locally sampling, processing and classifying vibrations and route relevant information to a CPU using multi-hop networking; (2) A modular building block for creating intelligent walls and facade systems that can recognize complex gestures; and (3) variable-stiffness composites that can assume arbitrary shapes using simple actuation and local feedback control.  Albeit serving different functions at different scales, material and computational properties can be designed using an unified mathematical framework based on abstracting the computer network as continuous amorphous medium.