Welcome to the Laboratory for Soft Machines & Electronics (SME) at the School of Packaging, Michigan State University (MSU). We are focusing on the mechanics and applications of soft  materials  and nano-materials, the design and fabrication of flexible, stretchable and printed electronics and biomedical devices, as well as  the 3D & 4D printing of advanced functional materials.  We employ 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 engineering and medicine, ranging from durable infrastructures 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

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 supercapacitor based on crumpled CNT-forests offers a new opportunity for next‐generation self-powered stretchable electronics. This research is featured as the frontispiece of the issue of Advanced Energy Materials

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. 


The device, which is analogous to a 4-bit flash drive, is the first fully-printed digital memory that would be suitable for practical use in simple electronics such as environmental sensors or RFID tags. And because it is jet-printed at relatively low temperatures, it could be used to build programmable electronic devices on bendable materials like paper, plastic or fabric.

Rose-petal effect achieved by graphene paper origami

We report a simple and cost-effective approach to fabricate highly stretchable large-area surfaces that give lotus-leaf and rose-petal effects by harnessing origami patterns formed in graphene paper (GP) bonded on a pre-strained elastomer substrate. The surfaces of the GP origami exhibit high contact angles (>160°) yet robust adhesion to water drops. 

Hierarchical Patterns with Dynamic Tunability and Multifunctionality

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Recent News

Dec 12, 2019


​Congratulations to Juan and Shoue for wining the award of "The 4th China Sustainable Packaging and Safety Design Innovation Contest”. Good job! 

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!

Nov 05, 2019


Dr. Cao delivered an invited talk at Oak Ridge National Lab (ORNL) and visited the University of Tennessee and Joint Institute of Advanced Materials. Thank Pooran and Yanfei for their kind host and the delicious food!  

Oct 30, 2019


Dr. Cao attended the NextFlex workshop, and visited Prof. Kejie Zhao's Lab and Prof. Wenbin Yu's Lab at Purdue University! Thank you all for the warm reception! 

Oct 08, 2019


Dr. Cao hosted Prof. Nadia Lapusta from Caltech for giving the Midwest Mechanics Seminar! 

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 24, 2019


Prof. Benedetto Marelli from MIT visited SME Lab and gave an invited talk on structural biopolymers at SoP! 

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! 

Sep 12, 2019

New Paper

​Ling's paper on new contact model of joint surfaces has been accepted for publication in International Journal of Applied Mechanics. Congrats! 

Jun 30, 2019

New Paper

Our new paper has been accepted for publication in Smart Materials and Structures . Good job! 

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!  

Oct 10, 2017

New Paper

Our collaborative work on pressure sensors via bacteria self-assembly has been published in Nature Biotechnology!  Congratulations to the team!

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