Evans awarded $108,000 National Science Foundation grant for research in soft robotics

The research focuses on the use of magnetic forces to move polymer composites embedded with magnetic particles and could have practical application in medical diagnostic devices.  

Ben Evans, associate professor of physics, has received a National Science Foundation grant for $108,182 for his research in the field of soft robotics.

Soft robotics is a relatively new but fast-growing field that uses soft materials such as polymers that are formed into devices that have a mechanical response that can be triggered by physical or chemical stimuli. Evans is researching polymer composites that contain embedded magnetic particles and can be put into action by magnets.  

The project that received the grant, titled “Collaborative Research: Processing and Performance of Chained Magnetic Particle Composites for Soft Robotics,” focuses on the development of composites to be used in soft robotic devices that have immediate practical applications, particularly in the development of medical diagnostic devices. Evans has been working in collaboration with Joseph B. Tracy, associate professor of the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at N.C. State University on his research.

Evans’ work in the field of soft robotics continues to receive attention. The National Science Foundation’s Science360 News website recently featured research by Evans and Tracy and Evans was a keynote speaker at the recent Colonial Academic Alliance Undergraduate Research Conference held at Elon. 

Additionally, Evans recently published a manuscript in the peer-reviewed journal Nanoscale on how a “microkayak” can be manipulated by magnetic forces to transport a single cell or mix liquids at the microscopic level.