Nanofiber-Reinforced Soft Robotic Actuators
Sinatra, Nina R.
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CitationSinatra, Nina R. 2019. Nanofiber-Reinforced Soft Robotic Actuators. Doctoral dissertation, Harvard University, Graduate School of Arts & Sciences.
AbstractThe advent of soft robotics has facilitated the development of highly compliant actuators and end effectors using pliable materials such as polymers and foams. Unlike conventional metal or plastic devices, soft robots are well suited for industrial and medical applications requiring extreme care, flexible form factors, smooth motions, and low applied forces. A fundamental challenge across many of these domains is gentle handling of fragile materials.
In this thesis, we develop nanofiber-reinforced composite soft actuators and demonstrate their utility for gentle grasping. We conduct a multiscale analysis of nanofiber structure, mechanics, and processing parameters, and apply these conclusions toward engineering novel manufacturing techniques for tough, highly aligned fibers. To facilitate design of multi-layer composite actuators, we derive two analytical models which describe the influence of fiber orientation and layup design on actuator curvature and motion. Combining multiple actuators into an ultra-compliant end effector, we demonstrate the capability of this device to perform unprecedented delicate manipulation tasks using laboratory tank testing and pilot field studies.
Citable link to this pagehttp://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:42029537
- FAS Theses and Dissertations 
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