Speaker Series: Mark Ilton, Harvey Mudd

This event occurred in the past

Speaker Series: Mark Ilton, Harvey Mudd

This event occurred in the past

Speaker Series: Mark Ilton, Harvey Mudd

This event occurred in the past

Date and Time

  • Tuesday, October 22, 2019 at 12:15 p.m.


Shiley Center for Science and Technology, 232

5998 Alcala Park San Diego, CA 92110




Please join the Department of Physics andBiophysics for a conversation with  Professor Mark Ilton, from the Department of Physics at Harvey Mudd College. Refreshments will be provided. 

Abstract: Inspired by small organisms which store and rapidly release elastic energy, recent examples in micro-robotics have used elastically-driven motion as a design strategy. Remarkably, the organisms achieve capabilities that exceed current engineering performance: generating high accelerations that can be continuously fueled through metabolic processes, and are used repeatedly with minimal performance degradation. To address this gap in performance, I will describe a mathematical and conceptual framework that our team has developed to analyze the fast, elastic energy release in these systems. The model incorporates the dynamic coupling of motors, springs, and latches, each of which displays its own force-velocity behavior. This mathematical approach reveals a rich and tunable performance landscape for spring-actuated movement.

Building upon this framework, I will describe our experimental approach which seeks to understand the size-scaling limits of elastic performance. Using a synthetic material with elastic properties similar to resilin (a biological material used for elastic energy storage), we measure the motion of the material during elastic energy release with a high-speed camera. The results highlight that velocity, not acceleration nor time duration, should be used to compare elastic systems which vastly differ in size. By comparing our synthetic resilin-like material to examples in biology, we find several organisms which demonstrate astonishing elastic performance. Lessons from these organisms serve as a guide for future micro-robotic design.

begin quoteThe Physics of Fast, Elastic Energy Release in Biological and Synthetic Systems
Developing best-practices to understand the kinematics of fast movements in nature

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