August 2021: Research at MEC: Research into Nano World
Academic staff at the Department of Mechatronics and Robotics conduct research at both macro scale and nano scale. Dr Pengfei Song, leader of the Intelligent Microsystems Laboratory at XJTLU, has done some impactful research in developing novel automated microfluidic systems and microfluidic nanosensors. One of his research work is the development of the robotic microfluidic system for studying the small model organisms with the diameter of less than 100 microns. The enabling element in this system is a so-called microfluidic chip, which is as small as a credit card, but it can integrate up to thousands of microchannels and valves and manipulate the fluidics within the channels. Video 1 demonstrates the automatic control of microvalves in microfluidic systems to enable the complex operations of fluids, just like the circuits and transistors in IC chips.
Therefore, it can perform complicated tasks such as performing a microinjection/microsurgery for small organisms in a streamlined manner, as demonstrated in Video 2.
This work has been highly recognized by researchers from Univ. of Nagoya, Institute of Genetics and Developmental Biology of Chinese Academy of Sciences, New York Univ., among others. This project received several awards from the community including the Best Paper Award in Microfluidics Symposium at ASME International Mechanical Engineering Congress & Exposition, the Best Conference Paper Award and the Best Automation Paper Award Finalist at IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA), and the Editor’s Pick Article Award and the Best Paper Award Finalist from AIP’s Biomicrofluidics.
在西交利物浦大学智能微系统实验室，学者们进行多学科交叉的研究，重点是开发新型的自动化微流控系统和微流控纳米生物传感器。其中，有一项工作是研究小型模型生物(直径小于100微米)的机器人微流控系统。该系统中的关键组件叫做微流控芯片，它与信用卡一样小，但可以集成多达数千个液体微流道和阀门（类比于 IC 芯片中的流过电流的电路和晶体管）并对液体进行全自动操控。就像视频1中所展示的通过在微流控芯片中全自动微阀的开合控制，实现复杂的流体操作如混合、输运、定量等。
我们的这项工作得到了来自众多高校的科研人员的高度认可，如名古屋大学、中国科学院遗传与发育生物学研究所、纽约大学等。该项目也获得了多个国际奖项，包括 ASME 国际机械工程大会和博览会-微流控最佳论文奖、IEEE 机器人与自动化国际会议 (ICRA) 最佳会议论文和最佳自动化论文奖提名奖，以及美国物理协会期刊 Biomicrofluidics 的编辑精选奖和年度最佳论文提名奖。
March 2021: Dr Min Chen' research field
"Standing in the frontier, facing the industrial demand, seeking the technological innovation" is the scientific research guideline of Dr. Min Chen’s team. An excellent industrial product, from the external configuration, color application, to the essential function, reliability requirements, is a complex harmonious coexistence. Though industrial products have various structures, there are many common scientific needs in use, like material selection, multi-physics coupling impact and mechanical characterizations.
As an outstanding instructor, Dr. Chen is not only good at cultivating young students, but also has extensive knowledge and skills in structure design and analysis. She has passion in scientific research and exploration. Her expertise focuses on multi-scale analysis of composite materials, multi-physics coupling analysis of structures and smart materials, and product design. She is well experienced in modeling the accurate physical models, simulating the responses of the structure under the coupled physical impacts. Through numerical simulation, the fundamental mechanism is comprehensively studied and the design schemes will be optimized. And sometimes even completely new solution is inspired.
In the video, parts of industrial research projects were illustrated, which were led by Dr. Chen and completed in recent three years, for instance, the structural analysis and design of controller for e-vehicle motor, cooling channel optimization design, thermal analysis of IC package, extreme lightweight design of exoskeletons, biomechanical analysis of orthodontic schemes. The research output greatly shortened the R&D time and reduced the R&D cost, meanwhile brought the new cutting-edge research foundation funding.
February 2021: Challenge the limit of the technology with Industry Partner
Happy Ox Year! I would like to take this opportunity to wish everybody a prosperous and productive new coming year.
To engage with industry is one of the practices that is embedded in our research-led teaching initiative. The project demonstrated in the video is one example of collaborating with industry by myself. Owing to the successful research and development in wireless mesh networks, I was approached by the company in early 2010 to work on this innovative project. I was impressed with the commercial idea and realized the potentials of apply advanced technologies in this project. Based on my understanding of development of future networking technologies, I envisioned that this project could have the following impacts:
(1) No. 1 in the world of an Internet of Things (IoT) product for airport services;
(2) cloud computing could be implemented because of the acquisition of large volume of data;
(3) indoor positioning technologies were hot but very challenging, which could be a very good research direction;
(4) extra commercial and scientific values brought in by the big data and the generation of new big data analytical methods.
With the financial support from the industry partner, a scalable cloud and IoT system was developed for the company to operate these trolleys at airports. In addition, scientific problems were identified in the sectors of indoor positioning and group user services. Great efforts were put in these two sectors with my researchers and some impactful outcomes were produced, including winning the first place in sound group in 2018 Microsoft Indoor Localisation Competition with Prof. Zhi Wang’s team from Zhejiang University, and publishment of several high-quality papers on IEEE transactions. The quality of publications was classified as world-leading research by the UK Research Excellence Framework (REF) experts. Further research projects were secured and commercial products were also produced based on these outcomes.
Based on previous outcomes, research has been extended into acoustic localization, communications and sensing; user-centred navigation and recommendation services for group users; and industrial IoT and industrial machine vision. Hopefully contributions could be made in these areas and the quality of research and teaching could be enhanced.
Prof. Xinheng Wang
Head of Department of Mechatronics and Robotic
在室内定位领域，王新珩教授和浙江大学的王智教授带领团队在微软全球室内定位大赛中获得声波组定位的第一名；团队用户的大数据研究也被英国REF（Research Excellence Framework）专家认定为世界领先。在这些技术的助力下，企业获得了国内前瞻性投资能力超强的中金公司的资金投入。
January 2021: Research-led Teaching to Boost Learning and Teaching Experience
To maintain high-quality teaching is always the first priority at XJTLU. At School of Advanced Technology, all the engineering programmes, including our BEng Mechatronics and Robotic Systems have been accredited by the UK’s Institute of Engineering and Technology. Teaching was delivered strictly according to the standard required by IET.
How to integrate high-standard research into teaching is a dream to the students, but a challenge to the academic staff. New staff member Dr Jie Sun has demonstrated the art of integrating research and teaching. Dr. Sun graduated from National University of Singapore and joined our department in the summer of 2020. Her research is in rehabilitation and system design. Her research work in interactive rehabilitation device design has been presented in a few top design conferences. She has led teams of undergraduate students to work closely with a local hospital and delivered a suite of toys to support the rehabilitation. The student teams have won a few regional design competition awards, and filed quite a few utility patents.
She said “It is my honor to join this department. I wish to apply more advanced mechatronic technologies in rehabilitation area, benefit patents and their families for better life. Also, I wish to work closely with other members of staff to perform more innovative multidisciplinary research.”
Prof. Xinheng Wang
Head of Department of Mechatronics and Robotic
December 2020: Dr. Yuqing Chen’s research in Bionic Robot Arm
The new members of staff have the priority to receive the full support from the department and the school. In this inaugural launch of this initiative, Dr. Yuqing Chen’s research in Bionic Robot Arm is introduced. As a new member of staff, Dr. Chen graduated from Singapore University of Technology and Design and joined us in the summer of 2020. The control method that he has developed is an innovative approach for the robots to mimic human actions. He said “I am impressed by the multidisciplinary background and world-leading research of the staff at MEC. We have solid background in robotic control systems, bio-inspired engineering, networked systems and intelligent mechatronics. I am honored to join MEC, I wish to work closely with other members of staff to perform innovative multidisciplinary research and maintain my research at the forefront of the world.”
Along with the launch of this initiative, we have also presented MEC from a TV broadcast of CCTV. If you have any comments about MEC, our research or would like to collaborate with us, please do contact us at SAT.MEC@xjtlu.edu.cn.