Tan and Sepulveda Receive NSF Grant
to Advance Control of New Microactuators
Professors Xiaobo Tan and Nelson Sepulveda have received an NSF grant to study the modeling, control, and application of new vanadium dioxide-based microactuators. Vanadium dioxide (VO2) is a multifunctional material with drastic changes of its mechanical, electrical, and optical properties taking place during its thermally induced phase transition, and its actuation capability has not been explored until several years ago. Depositing VO2 on a silicon cantilever, for example, results in large bending motion when the structure is heated above 68 degrees Celsius. VO2 microactuators have demonstrated large work density and high durability, and hold strong promise in applications such as micro-robotics and micro-surgery. At the same time, these devices have complex, hysteretic electro-thermo-mechanical behavior that impedes their precision control. Tan and Sepulveda’s work will focus on developing mathematical models for hysteresis in VO2 actuators, investigating novel self-sensing strategies that infer mechanical output without the use of dedicated sensors, designing feedback control algorithms, and demonstrating the effectiveness of the modeling and control schemes on a micro-scale arm that has multiple degrees of freedom.
An abstract of the project can be viewed at www.nsf.gov/awardsearch/showAward?AWD_ID=1301243.