Stretchable Fiber Optic Sensors for Soft Robotics

Project Title: Stretchable Fiber Optic Sensors for Soft Robotics


Project Mentors

  • Primary Faculty Mentor (Name, Affiliation, website and Email/Phone):

Dr. Mable Fok, Associate Professor, College of Engineering


  • Graduate Student/PostDoc mentors (Name, Affiliation and Email/Phone):

Mei Yang, PhD student



Project Description: Soft robots are made from soft, elastic materials and are capable of mimicking complex motions of human and animals. It offers unique opportunities in areas where conventional rigid robots are not a viable solution. Embedded soft sensors are important for soft robots to sense and response to its surroundings. Unfortunately, most sensors are made out of conventional electronics, which is rigid and is not suitable for soft robotic applications. Alternatively, fiber optic sensor has a number of unique advantages compare with its electronics counterpart. In soft robots, elongation and continuum deformation allow for increased flexibility and adaptability for accomplishing tasks, but it also inhibited the use of conventional fiber optic sensor in soft robotics due to the stiffness and the lack of stretchability of an optical fiber. In this project, we will design and embed novel stretchable fiber optic sensor in soft robots to sense and distinguish various motions and status of the robot by monitoring the color change in the fiber optic sensor.


Gabriela C. del Valle Pérez, REU 2018 student, was working on this project by studying the insertion loss resulted from various embedding structure. In 2019, we will focus on the design of both soft robot and fiber optic sensor.


REU Student Role and Responsibility:

The student will design unique fiber optic sensor structure to enable elongation of the sensor. The student will have the opportunity to design and fabricate soft robot, as well as embedding fiber optic sensor in the soft robot.


Required skills or courses for the REU student:

Experience in experiment data collection and data processing using excel.


Expected Outcome for REU student:

The student will complete the design and fabrication of a soft robot with sensing capability. The student’s work will contribute to the research group’s publications, aimed for submission as a conference paper and journal paper in the area. Upon completion of the entire project, a comprehensive paper on the device will be submitted for journal publication. The device may also be in consideration for commercialization pending experimental outcomes.