MAE Seminar (ZOOM): Engineering Materials for Next-generation Microrobots

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Camilo Vélez-Cuervo, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor
Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering
UC Irvine

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Abstract: Like colonies of ants or bees, it is conceivable for coordinated swarms of small-scale robots to together solve complex tasks, such as micro/nanomanufacturing, biomedical treatments (direct cell manipulation, minimal invasive medicine, theranostics, etc.), monitor and maintenance of structures or surveillance. In the last few years, researchers have demonstrated significant advancements along this theme, including locomotion (magnetic, flaying, swimming), multiple robot manipulation, chemical actuation and human in-vivo experimentation. However, to fully realize this futuristic vision, the microrobot units must be made smaller, smarter, cheaper and more capable than anything seen before.

To address some of these challenges, this research focuses on materials engineering advancement in the field of microrobotics with two specific approaches: (1) The usage of 3D printing to solve technological challenges in the fabrication of actuation mechanisms with sub-mm resolution and (2) The fabrication of magnetic composites to enhance functionality of microscale robots. Finally, an overview of the new magnetic microsystems and microrobotics lab in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering will be presented.

Bio: Camilo Velez is an assistant professor in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at UC Irvine. His research interests include micro/nano robotics, fabrication of magnetic devices at microscale, MEMS and microfluidics. He conducted postdoctoral research at Carnegie Mellon University in the Microrobotics Lab and at the Interdisciplinary Microsystems Group at University of Florida (UF). Velez received his doctorate and master's degree in electrical and computer engineering at UF, a master's in engineering at Universidad de los Andes-Colombia, and his bachelor's degree in electronic engineering at Pontificia Universidad Javeriana-Colombia. Velez was awarded an Engineering Award for Creativity at UF, honorable mention for excellence in research in during his bachelor's degree in Colombia and won two best poster awards. He currently serves on the board of governors of Electron Devices Society at IEEE as chair of the Young Professionals Committee, and as a member of the IEEE Microelectromechanical Systems.