Advanced materials and fabrication schemes for applications in fluid engineering, wearable sensors and battery technology

Zhou, Honghao (2024) Advanced materials and fabrication schemes for applications in fluid engineering, wearable sensors and battery technology. Doctoral thesis, Northumbria University.

[img] Text (Doctoral thesis)
zhou.honghao_phd(16029868).pdf - Submitted Version
Restricted to Repository staff only until 28 September 2024.

Download (7MB) | Request a copy


Although the concept of robotics has been around for millennia, it is only in recent times that its profound impact on daily life has become evident. This modern era of robotics is marked by the development of advanced materials, including smart polymers and other soft materials, coupled with innovative fabrication techniques. These advancements have propelled rapid growth in the field of soft robotics, while traditional rigid robotics continue to play a significant role in numerous engineering applications. Despite their usefulness, conventional robotics also have significant limitations such as unsafe human-robot interaction, high prototyping costs, and limitations in on-demand production. On the other hand, current soft materials have yet to fully meet the diverse and complex challenges of robotic systems.

Specifically, in this thesis, we have developed novel soft materials and advanced fabrication approaches for constructing various robotic components. These developments are unified by a common goal: to overcome existing limitations and enhance robotic capabilities. The details are summarised below:

We developed a novel electrochemical anodization method to apply uniform superhydrophobic coatings on complex surfaces,including deformed tubes. This technique significantly enhances liquid transportation efficiency by reducing flow drag and corrosion, offering potential applications in enhancing the performance of hydraulically driven robotic systems.

A responsive hydrogel-based sensor with anti-swelling capabilities for use in aquatic conditions was also developed. Employing a structural gel composite (SGC) with a hydrophobic lipid gel layer, the sensor demonstrated robust underwater performance, opening opportunities for its application in wearable technology and robotics.

Furthermore, we created an ultra-stretchable supramolecular PAA/PANI hydrogel using a unique “doping then gelling” strategy. The resulting hydrogel exhibited remarkable stretchability, high breaking strength, and rapid self-healing capabilities, making it ideal for flexible sensors in wearable electronics for health monitoring.

Finally, we addressed the safety and efficiency concerns in lithium-ion batteries by developing a gel polymer electrolyte (GPE) with superior ionic conductivity and mechanical properties. The GPEs, suitable for lithium metal batteries, promise enhanced operational safety and energy efficiency at room temperature, signifying a major advancement in battery technology for robotics and other applications.

The aforementioned approaches and material developments overcome various limitations within robotic systems, offering innovative solutions that contribute to the advancement of knowledge in this frontier scientific field.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Uncontrolled Keywords: drag reduction, deformed tube, entangled hydrogel, underwater mechanosensing, polymer electrolyte
Subjects: F200 Materials Science
H300 Mechanical Engineering
Department: Faculties > Engineering and Environment > Mechanical and Construction Engineering
University Services > Graduate School > Doctor of Philosophy
Depositing User: John Coen
Date Deposited: 17 Apr 2024 08:20
Last Modified: 17 Apr 2024 08:30

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item


Downloads per month over past year

View more statistics