Carmel Majidi, Ph.D.


Carmel Majidi

Assistant Professor, Department of Mechanical Engineering
Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh USA 15213 · 

Brief Biography

Carmel Majidi is an Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Carnegie Mellon University, where he leads the Soft Machines Lab. Prior to arriving at CMU, Prof. Majidi was a postdoctoral fellow in the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences at Harvard University (December 2009 – August 2011) where he worked with Profs. Robert Wood and George Whitesides to explore new paradigms in soft robotics and soft-matter electronics. From December 2007 to November 2009, he was a postdoctoral fellow in the Princeton Institute for the Science and Technology of Materials (PRISM) and worked with Profs. David Srolovitz (currently at UPenn) and Mikko Haataja (Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering) to examine the physics and morphological stability of piezoelectric nanostructures. Prof. Majidi received his doctoral training at UC Berkeley, where he worked with Profs. Ronald Fearing and Bob Full to examine natural gecko adhesion and develop a gecko-inspired shear-activated adhesive.  Prof. Majidi is a recent recipient of Young Investigator awards from DARPA, ONR, and AFOSR, all for work related to soft-matter robotics and engineering.

Stiffness Tuning Materials for Wearable Robots

In their passive state, wearable robots must be soft and allow the body to move freely.  However, when assisting in motor tasks or protecting the body from injury, these same technologies must become spontaneously rigid and be capable of supporting large mechanical loads or impacts.  Therefore, as with the natural musculoskeletal system, wearable robots must have elements that can reversibly tune their elastic rigidity – from soft and mechanically passive to rigid and active.  This is a well-established principle in assistive biomechatronics that inspired much of the original interest in pneumatic artificial muscle technologies.  In this talk, I will review some of the early work in rigidity tuning for wearable robots and explore more recent alternatives to pneumatics.  These include series elastic actuators, particle jamming, gel hydration, and magnetorheological damping.  I will also present some recent efforts by my group at CMU, the Soft Machines Lab, to design elastomer-based composites with rigidity-tuning properties.  We have accomplished reversible rigidity tuning with elastomers that are embedded with stretchable Joule-heating elements and thermally-responsive materials.  In this talk, I will present our theories, design principles, and experimental studies as well as fabrication methods for cheap, fast, and reliable production of soft multifunctional materials through rapid prototyping.