Sensor-Enabled Accelerated Engineering of Soft Materials

dc.contributor.authorLiu, Yangen
dc.contributor.committeechairJohnson, Blakeen
dc.contributor.committeememberAshkar, Ranaen
dc.contributor.committeememberRoman, Marenen
dc.contributor.committeememberDillard, David A.en
dc.contributor.committeememberAgah, Masouden
dc.contributor.departmentGraduate Schoolen
dc.description.abstractMany grand societal challenges are rooted in the need for new materials, such as those related to energy, health, and the environment. However, the traditional way of discovering new materials is basically trial and error. This time-consuming and expensive method can't meet the quickly growing requirements for material discovery. To meet this challenge, the government of the United States started the Materials Genome Initiative (MGI) in 2011. MGI aims at accelerating the pace and reducing the cost of discovering new materials. The success of MGI needs materials innovation infrastructure including data tools, computation tools, and experiment tools. The last decade has witnessed significant progress for MGI, especially with respect to hard materials. However, relatively less attention has been paid to soft materials. One important reason is the lack of experimental tools, especially characterization tools for high-throughput experimentation. This dissertation aims to enrich the toolbox by trying new sensor tools for high-throughput characterization of hydrogels. Piezoelectric-excited millimeter-sized cantilever (PEMC) sensors were used in this dissertation to characterize hydrogels. Their capability to investigate hydrogels was first demonstrated by monitoring the synthesis and stimuli-response of composite hydrogels. The PEMC sensors enabled in-situ study of how the manufacturing process, i.e. bulk vs. layer-by-layer, affects the structure and properties of hydrogels. Afterwards, the PEMC sensors were integrated with robots to develop a method of high-throughput experimentation. Various hydrogels were formulated in a well-plate format and characterized by the sensor tools in an automated manner. High-throughput characterization, especially multi-property characterization enabled optimizing the formulation to achieve tradeoff between different properties. Finally, the sensor-based high-throughput experimentation was combined with active learning for accelerated material discovery. A collaborative learning was used to guide the high-throughput formulation and characterization of hydrogels, which demonstrated rapid discovery of mechanically optimized composite glycogels. Through this dissertation, we hope to provide a new tool for high-throughput characterization of soft materials to accelerate the discovery and optimization of materials.en
dc.description.abstractgeneralMany grand societal challenges, including those associated with energy and healthcare, are driven by the need for new materials. However, the traditional way of discovering new materials is based on trial and error using low throughput computational and experimental methods. For example, it often takes several years, even decades, to discover and commercialize new materials. The lithium-ion battery is a good example. Traditional time-consuming and expensive methods cannot meet the fast-growing requirements of modern material discovery. With the development of computer science and automation, the idea of using data, artificial intelligence, and robots for accelerated materials discovery has attracted more and more attention. Significant progress has been made in metals and inorganic non-metal materials (e.g., semiconductors) in the past decade under the guidance of machine learning and the assistance of automated robots. However, relatively less progress has been made in materials having complex structures and dynamic properties, such as hydrogels. Hydrogels have wide applications in our daily lives, such as drugs and biomedical devices. One significant barrier to accelerated discovery and engineering of hydrogels is the lack of tools that can rapidly characterize the material's properties. In this dissertation, a sensor-based approach was created to characterize the mechanical properties and stimuli-response of soft materials using low sample volumes. The sensor was integrated with a robot to test materials in high-throughput formats in a rapid and automated measurement format. In combination with machine learning, the high-throughput characterization method was demonstrated to accelerate the engineering and optimization of several hydrogels. Through this dissertation, we hope to provide new tools and methods for rapid engineering of soft materials.en
dc.description.degreeDoctor of Philosophyen
dc.publisherVirginia Techen
dc.rightsIn Copyrighten
dc.subjectMaterials Genome Initiativeen
dc.subjectHigh-throughput experimentationen
dc.subjectActive learningen
dc.subjectBayesian optimizationen
dc.titleSensor-Enabled Accelerated Engineering of Soft Materialsen
dc.typeDissertationen Science and Engineeringen Polytechnic Institute and State Universityen of Philosophyen


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