Welcome to the Laboratory for Soft Machines & Electronics (SME) at the School of Packaging, Michigan State University (MSU). We are focusing on the design, mechanics and physics of soft  (active) materials and soft robotics, the design and fabrication of flexible, stretchable and printed electronics, as well as  the 3D & 4D printing of advanced functional materials.  We are employing a combination of  experimental, numerical and theoretical methods to exploit the fundamental mechanics and physics of advanced materials, and to design and fabricate novel machines and electronics using advanced technologies for a variety of applications in energy, food, healthcare, infrastructure and agriculture, ranging from durable buildings to tunable surfaces and interfaces, to stretchable and wearable electronics, as well as materials and technologies for Internet of Things (IoTs) and smart packaging systems in supply chain. 

Research Hightlight

Powerful human-like hands create safer human-robotics interactions

Need a robot with a soft touch? MSU Spartan engineers has designed and developed a novel humanoid hand that may be able to help. This new research is reported by MSU Today .

Precision Processing and Manufacturing

We investigated the electrorheological fluid-assisted polishing technique in processing conductive materials with ultra-high precision at small scales for novel electronic and optical devices. 

Forest fire alarm system

A novel high-performance multilayered cylindrical triboelectric nanogenerator (MC-TENG) is designed to harvest the kinetic energy of tree branches for powering a fire sensing system in a forest. 

Robust Wearable Energy Device

We developed a new stretchable supercapacitor based on Au-CNT-forests, paving new avenues for designing novel power-independent portable and wearable electronics for broad applications, published in Matter.

Stretchable Supercapacitors by MXene-Reduced Graphene Oxide Composite

We have developed a method to overcome the cracking problem of MXene based energy devices for stretchable or wearable applications. This research will appear in ACS Nano  soon

Smart Gripper for Soft Robotics

We have developed a new type of smart robotic gripper and actuator based on the cable driven mechanism and triboelectric nanogenerator (TENG) sensors, targeting at applications in packaging automation and agriculture harvesting. This research is published in Advanced Materials Technologies

Modeling of magneto-active elastomers

We have proposed a modified continuum theory and finite element framework for magneto-actuated large deformation and instability of magneto-active elastomers, which is published in International Journal of Applied Mechanics!

Novel Triboelectric Nanogenerator

We have developed a new type of wave energy harvester, hierarchically structured triboelectric nanogenerator (HS-TENG), based on the triboelectric effect, targeting to harvest the huge blue energy for large-scale deployments. This research is published in Nano Energy

Stretchable Supercapacitors from Crumpled CNT-forests

Stretchable supercapacitors based on crumpled CNT-forests are fabricated by harnessing the
mechanical instability of vertically aligned CNT arrays transferred on an elastomer substrate, offering a
new opportunity for next‐generation self-powered stretchable electronics.

Phase Transition and Optimal Actuation of Active Bilayer Structures

We have theoretically and numerically investigated the phase transition and optimal actuation of bilayer structures under biaxial active strains. 

Bacteria Self-Organize to Build Working Sensors

We have demonstrated one way of fabricating a 3-D dome-shaped structure based entirely on the principle of self-organization via bacteria. Identical arrays of domes were grown on two substrate surfaces, and then sandwiched together to form hybrid organic-inorganic pressure sensors.

Fully Printed, Flexible, Stable & Hysteresis-free CNT-TFTs

This study reports hysteresis-free carbon nanotube thin-film transistor (CNT-TFTs) fabricated entirely using an aerosol jet printing technique; this includes the printing of all layers: semiconducting CNTs, metallic electrodes, and insulating gate dielectrics. 

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Recent News

Nov 12, 2020

New Paper

Our work on 4D printing of stretchable supercapacitors has been accepted for publication by Advanced Materials Technologies.  Thank the team and collaborators!  

Oct 26, 2020

New Paper

Yunwei's paper on precision fabrication has been accepted for publication by Advanced Engineering Materials.   

Oct 10, 2020

New Paper

Yaokun's review paper on hybrid energy harvesting system has been accepted for publication by Matter. Cheers!  

Sep 28, 2019


Dr. Cao delivered an invited talk at IEEE-NEMS 2020 on the work in developing robust highly stretchable supercapacitors !  

Aug 24, 2020

News Report

Our work on self-powered forest fire alarm system is highlighted Science! Cheers! 

Jul 20, 2020

News Report

Xiaomin's work on soft robotic hands has been reported by MSU Today, Robotic Report, EurekAlert, Phys.org, ScienceDaily, Nanowerk, IDTechEx, and many others.

Jun 24, 2020

News Report

Yaokun's paper on novel self-powered fire alarm system has been reported by MSU Today, Advanced Science News, EurekAlert, Phys.org, ScienceDaily, ENN, Nanowerk, IDTechEx, SunriseTechno, and many others.

May 15, 2020

New Paper

Yaokun's paper on novel TENG powered sensor system has been accepted for publication by Advanced Functional Materials. Congrats!  

Apr 16, 2020

New Paper

Xiaomin's paper has been accepted for publication by Soft Robotics. Congrats! 

Mar 30, 2020

New Paper

Kexin's paper has been accepted for publication by ACS Applied Materials and Interfaces.

Mar 19, 2020

New Paper

Our work on stretchable Au-CNT forest based supercapacitor has been published online in Matter. The research has been reported by ScienceDaily, Phys.org, NanowerkNews Break, Duke Research and others. 

Mar 06, 2020

Featured on the inside cover of AMT

Shoue's Paper has been selected to be featured on the inside cover of the upcoming issue of Advanced Materials Technologies! Congrats! 

Feb 12, 2020

New Paper

Yihao's paper on robust stretchable supercapacitor from MXene and RGO composites has been accepted for publication by ACS Nano. Cheers!

Dec 24, 2019

Journal Cover

Yaokun's paper on HS-TENG has been featured as the Front Cover in the latest issue of Nano Energy. Congrats!

Dec 20, 2019

New Paper

Yin's paper on modeling magnetoactive elastomers has been accepted for publication by International Journal of Applied Mechanics. Congrats!

Nov 30, 2019

New Paper

​Shoue's review paper on soft robots has been published in Advanced Materials Technologies. Thank all the co-authors! Cheers!

Sep 30, 2019

New Paper

​Yaokun's review paper on 3D printed batteries has been accepted for publication in Advanced Functional Materials (IF: 15.621). Congrats! 

Sep 22, 2019

New Paper

​Yaokun's paper on novel hierarchical structured triboelectric nanogenerator (HS-TENG) has been accepted for publication in Nano Energy (IF: 15.548). Congrats! 

Apr 12, 2019

New Paper

Our paper on Highly Stretchable Supercapacitors  via Crumpled CNT-Forests has been accepted for publication in Advanced Energy Materials  (IF: 24.88).  Cheers! 

Apr 11, 2019

New Paper

Yin's paper "Phase Transition and Optimal Actuation of Active Bilayer Structures" has been accepted for publication in Extreme Mechanics Letters.  Congrats!  

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