Field-activated fluids for small low-cost valves for hydraulic robots
My thesis work focuses on designing and characterizing small low-cost valves for small hydraulic robots (e.g. search and rescue type). Our approach utilizes smart fluids (Electrorheological fluids/Magnetorheological) that upon the application of an electric/magnetic field can change from a liquid to a solid state reversibly within ms. This is due to the presence of non-colloidal particles that form chains under the application of the field and allow the material to hold a pressure before yielding/flowing thus making it promising for valve applications. My work consists of utilizing these materials and testing their capabilities for valve design. It ranges from rheological material characterization to modeling, designing, testing and optimizing cm-scale valves for robotic applications.
Low-cost semi-solid flow batteries for energy storage
Flow batteries are a promising technology forlow-cost energy storage for automotive and grid applications. Unlike a traditional battery, the material is pumped and stored in a tank upon charge/discharge thus decoupling the energy and power capabilities of the cell. Traditional cells (e.g. Vanadium redox) require pumping a Newtonian electrolyte through a conductive porois media (e.g. Carbon felt). Following a new approach developed at MIT in Prof. Yet Ming Chiang’s group, a nanoconductor can be embedded in the electrolyte to form a semi-solid flow cell once the nanoconductor percolates. Our work focuses on designing and optimizing semi-solid flow cells based on the Lithium-Sulfur chemistry and containing Carbon Black as the nanoconductor. My work consists in the mechanical characterization and optimization of the suspensions so they have a good electronic conductivity and remain flowable at the same time. I am working on building a new simultaneous rheo-electronic impedance spectroscopy setup that will allow to measure how the conductivity decays under flow as the carbon network breaks. In addition, we are working on flow models for cells of different scales using these materials.
Throughout my time at MIT, I have had the luck to work on different design projects outside of my research. The “How to make (almost) anything” class taught me exactly that: learning the skills to both change the form and the function of a design through rapid prototypting tools (lasercutting, milling, microelectronics, 3D printing, casting). You can check some of the cool things I made in the class here.
I’ve also worked on a watermelon freshness tester for 2.131 (Advanced Bioinstrumentation) and an eco shredder that salvages white parts of a paper before shredding it for 2.74 (Product Design).
Experimental characterization of foams
During my undergrad, I did research on the rheology of wet foams at shear rates. I helped build a sliding that could get accurate oscillatory measurements at high frequency with a reduced inertia relative to commercial rheometers.