Ruike Renee Zhao is an Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Stanford University where she directs the Soft Intelligent Materials Laboratory. Renee received her BS degree from Xi'an Jiaotong University in 2012, and her MS and PhD degrees from Brown University in 2014 and 2016, respectively. She was a postdoc associate at MIT during 2016-2018 prior to her appointment as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at The Ohio State University from 2018 to 2021.
Renee’s research concerns the development of stimuli-responsive soft composites for multifunctional robotic systems with integrated shape-changing, assembling, sensing, and navigation. By combining mechanics, polymer engineering, and advanced material manufacturing techniques, the functional soft composites enable applications in soft robotics, miniaturized biomedical devices, flexible electronics, deployable and morphing structures.
Renee is a recipient of the ASME Journal of Applied Mechanics award (2021), the NSF Career Award (2020), and the ASME Haythornthwaite Research Initiation Award (2018).
Honors & Awards
Journal of Applied Mechanics Award, ASME Applied Mechanics Division (2021)
Terman Faculty Fellow, Stanford University (2021)
Gabilan Faculty Fellow, Stanford University (2021-2024)
CAREER Award, National Science Foundation (2020)
Haythornthwaite Foundation Award, ASME Applied Mechanics Division (2018)
Plastech Graduate Fellowship, Brown University (2015-2016)
Postdoctoral Associate, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Mechanical Engineering (2018)
PhD, Brown University, Mechanical Engineering, Solid Mechanics (2016)
MS, Brown University, Mechanical Engineering (2014)
BS, Xi'an Jiaotong University, Mechanical Engineering (2012)
- Mechanics of Materials
ME 80 (Spr)
- Seminar in Solid Mechanics
ME 395 (Win, Spr)
- Soft Composites and Soft Robotics
ME 303 (Win)
Independent Studies (4)
- Engineering Problems
ME 391 (Aut, Win, Spr, Sum)
- Experimental Investigation of Engineering Problems
ME 392 (Aut, Win, Spr, Sum)
- Ph.D. Research Rotation
ME 398 (Aut, Win, Spr, Sum)
- Ph.D. Teaching Experience
ME 491 (Win, Spr)
- Engineering Problems
- Multi-Color 3D Printing via Single-Vat Grayscale Digital Light Processing ADVANCED FUNCTIONAL MATERIALS 2022
Soft robotic origami crawler.
2022; 8 (13): eabm7834
Biomimetic soft robotic crawlers have attracted extensive attention in various engineering fields, owing to their adaptivity to different terrains. Earthworm-like crawlers realize locomotion through in-plane contraction, while inchworm-like crawlers exhibit out-of-plane bending-based motions. Although in-plane contraction crawlers demonstrate effective motion in confined spaces, miniaturization is challenging because of limited actuation methods and complex structures. Here, we report a magnetically actuated small-scale origami crawler with in-plane contraction. The contraction mechanism is achieved through a four-unit Kresling origami assembly consisting of two Kresling dipoles with two-level symmetry. Magnetic actuation is used to provide appropriate torque distribution, enabling a small-scale and untethered robot with both crawling and steering capabilities. The crawler can overcome large resistances from severely confined spaces by its anisotropic and magnetically tunable structural stiffness. The multifunctionality of the crawler is explored by using the internal cavity of the crawler for drug storage and release. The magnetic origami crawler can potentially serve as a minimally invasive device for biomedical applications.
View details for DOI 10.1126/sciadv.abm7834
View details for PubMedID 35353556
- Machine Learning-Evolutionary Algorithm Enabled Design for 4D-Printed Active Composite Structures ADVANCED FUNCTIONAL MATERIALS 2021
Deciphering and engineering tissue folding: A mechanical perspective
2021; 134: 32-42
The folding of tissues/organs into complex shapes is a common phenomenon that occurs in organisms such as animals and plants, and is both structurally and functionally important. Deciphering the process of tissue folding and applying this knowledge to engineer folded systems would significantly advance the field of tissue engineering. Although early studies focused on investigating the biochemical signaling events that occur during the folding process, the physical or mechanical aspects of the process have received increasing attention in recent years. In this review, we will summarize recent findings on the mechanical aspects of folding and introduce strategies by which folding can be controlled in vitro. Emphasis will be placed on the folding events triggered by mechanical effects at the cellular and tissue levels and on the different cell- and biomaterial-based approaches used to recapitulate folding. Finally, we will provide a perspective on the development of engineering tissue folding toward preclinical and clinical translation. STATEMENT OF SIGNIFICANCE: Tissue folding is a common phenomenon in a variety of organisms including human, and has been shown to serve important structural and functional roles. Understanding how folding forms and applying the concept in tissue engineering would represent an advance of the research field. Recently, the physical or mechanical aspect of tissue folding has gained increasing attention. In this review, we will cover recent findings of the mechanical aspect of folding mechanisms, and introduce strategies to control the folding process in vitro. We will also provide a perspective on the future development of the field towards preclinical and clinical translation of various bio fabrication technologies.
View details for DOI 10.1016/j.actbio.2021.07.044
View details for Web of Science ID 000710075800003
View details for PubMedID 34325076
Stretchable origami robotic arm with omnidirectional bending and twisting.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
2021; 118 (36)
Inspired by the embodied intelligence observed in octopus arms, we introduce magnetically controlled origami robotic arms based on Kresling patterns for multimodal deformations, including stretching, folding, omnidirectional bending, and twisting. The highly integrated motion of the robotic arms is attributed to inherent features of the reconfigurable Kresling unit, whose controllable bistable deploying/folding and omnidirectional bending are achieved through precise magnetic actuation. We investigate single- and multiple-unit robotic systems, the latter exhibiting higher biomimetic resemblance to octopus' arms. We start from the single Kresling unit to delineate the working mechanism of the magnetic actuation for deploying/folding and bending. The two-unit Kresling assembly demonstrates the basic integrated motion that combines omnidirectional bending with deploying. The four-unit Kresling assembly constitutes a robotic arm with a larger omnidirectional bending angle and stretchability. With the foundation of the basic integrated motion, scalability of Kresling assemblies is demonstrated through distributed magnetic actuation of double-digit number of units, which enables robotic arms with sophisticated motions, such as continuous stretching and contracting, reconfigurable bending, and multiaxis twisting. Such complex motions allow for functions mimicking octopus arms that grasp and manipulate objects. The Kresling robotic arm with noncontact actuation provides a distinctive mechanism for applications that require synergistic robotic motions for navigation, sensing, and interaction with objects in environments with limited or constrained access. Based on small-scale Kresling robotic arms, miniaturized medical devices, such as tubes and catheters, can be developed in conjunction with endoscopy, intubation, and catheterization procedures using functionalities of object manipulation and motion under remote control.
View details for DOI 10.1073/pnas.2110023118
View details for PubMedID 34462360
- Ring Origami: Snap-Folding of Rings with Different Geometries ADVANCED INTELLIGENT SYSTEMS 2021; 3 (9)
Magnetic Dynamic Polymers for Modular Assembling and Reconfigurable Morphing Architectures
2021; 33 (30): e2102113
Shape-morphing magnetic soft materials, composed of magnetic particles in a soft polymer matrix, can transform shape reversibly, remotely, and rapidly, finding diverse applications in actuators, soft robotics, and biomedical devices. To achieve on-demand and sophisticated shape morphing, the manufacture of structures with complex geometry and magnetization distribution is highly desired. Here, a magnetic dynamic polymer (MDP) composite composed of hard-magnetic microparticles in a dynamic polymer network with thermally responsive reversible linkages, which permits functionalities including targeted welding for magnetic-assisted assembly, magnetization reprogramming, and permanent structural reconfiguration, is reported. These functions not only provide highly desirable structural and material programmability and reprogrammability but also enable the manufacturing of functional soft architected materials such as 3D kirigami with complex magnetization distribution. The welding of magnetic-assisted modular assembly can be further combined with magnetization reprogramming and permanent reshaping capabilities for programmable and reconfigurable architectures and morphing structures. The reported MDP are anticipated to provide a new paradigm for the design and manufacture of future multifunctional assemblies and reconfigurable morphing architectures and devices.
View details for DOI 10.1002/adma.202102113
View details for Web of Science ID 000663379700001
View details for PubMedID 34146361
Adaptive and multifunctional hydrogel hybrid probes for long-term sensing and modulation of neural activity
2021; 12 (1): 3435
To understand the underlying mechanisms of progressive neurophysiological phenomena, neural interfaces should interact bi-directionally with brain circuits over extended periods of time. However, such interfaces remain limited by the foreign body response that stems from the chemo-mechanical mismatch between the probes and the neural tissues. To address this challenge, we developed a multifunctional sensing and actuation platform consisting of multimaterial fibers intimately integrated within a soft hydrogel matrix mimicking the brain tissue. These hybrid devices possess adaptive bending stiffness determined by the hydration states of the hydrogel matrix. This enables their direct insertion into the deep brain regions, while minimizing tissue damage associated with the brain micromotion after implantation. The hydrogel hybrid devices permit electrophysiological, optogenetic, and behavioral studies of neural circuits with minimal foreign body responses and tracking of stable isolated single neuron potentials in freely moving mice over 6 months following implantation.
View details for DOI 10.1038/s41467-021-23802-9
View details for Web of Science ID 000664803900004
View details for PubMedID 34103511
View details for PubMedCentralID PMC8187649
- Preface: Forum on Novel Stimuli-Responsive Materials for 3D Printing ACS APPLIED MATERIALS & INTERFACES 2021; 13 (11): 12637-12638
Magnetic Multimaterial Printing for Multimodal Shape Transformation with Tunable Properties and Shiftable Mechanical Behaviors
ACS APPLIED MATERIALS & INTERFACES
2021; 13 (11): 12639-12648
Magnetic soft materials (MSMs) have shown potential in soft robotics, actuators, metamaterials, and biomedical devices because they are capable of untethered, fast, and reversible shape reconfigurations as well as controllable dynamic motions under applied magnetic fields. Recently, magnetic shape memory polymers (M-SMPs) that incorporate hard magnetic particles in shape memory polymers demonstrated superior shape manipulation performance by realizing reprogrammable, untethered, fast, and reversible shape transformation and shape locking in one material system. In this work, we develop a multimaterial printing technology for the complex structural integration of MSMs and M-SMPs to explore their enhanced multimodal shape transformation and tunable properties. By cooperative thermal and magnetic actuation, we demonstrate multiple deformation modes with distinct shape configurations, which further enable active metamaterials with tunable physical properties such as sign-change Poisson's ratio. Because of the multiphysics response of the M-MSP/MSM metamaterials, one distinct feature is their capability of shifting between various global mechanical behaviors such as expansion, contraction, shear, and bending. We anticipate that the multimaterial printing technique opens new avenues for the fabrication of multifunctional magnetic materials.
View details for DOI 10.1021/acsami.0c13863
View details for Web of Science ID 000634759500002
View details for PubMedID 32897697
Multifunctional magnetic soft composites: a review.
2020; 3 (4): 042003
Magnetically responsive soft materials are soft composites where magnetic fillers are embedded into soft polymeric matrices. These active materials have attracted extensive research and industrial interest due to their ability to realize fast and programmable shape changes through remote and untethered control under the application of magnetic fields. They would have many high-impact potential applications in soft robotics/devices, metamaterials, and biomedical devices. With a broad range of functional magnetic fillers, polymeric matrices, and advanced fabrication techniques, the material properties can be programmed for integrated functions, including programmable shape morphing, dynamic shape deformation-based locomotion, object manipulation and assembly, remote heat generation, as well as reconfigurable electronics. In this review, an overview of state-of-the-art developments and future perspectives in the multifunctional magnetically responsive soft materials is presented.
View details for DOI 10.1088/2399-7532/abcb0c
View details for PubMedID 33834121
- Magneto-Mechanical Metamaterials with Widely Tunable Mechanical Properties and Acoustic Bandgaps ADVANCED FUNCTIONAL MATERIALS 2021; 31 (3)
Untethered control of functional origami microrobots with distributed actuation
PROCEEDINGS OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
2020; 117 (39): 24096-24101
Deployability, multifunctionality, and tunability are features that can be explored in the design space of origami engineering solutions. These features arise from the shape-changing capabilities of origami assemblies, which require effective actuation for full functionality. Current actuation strategies rely on either slow or tethered or bulky actuators (or a combination). To broaden applications of origami designs, we introduce an origami system with magnetic control. We couple the geometrical and mechanical properties of the bistable Kresling pattern with a magnetically responsive material to achieve untethered and local/distributed actuation with controllable speed, which can be as fast as a tenth of a second with instantaneous shape locking. We show how this strategy facilitates multimodal actuation of the multicell assemblies, in which any unit cell can be independently folded and deployed, allowing for on-the-fly programmability. In addition, we demonstrate how the Kresling assembly can serve as a basis for tunable physical properties and for digital computing. The magnetic origami systems are applicable to origami-inspired robots, morphing structures and devices, metamaterials, and multifunctional devices with multiphysics responses.
View details for DOI 10.1073/pnas.2013292117
View details for Web of Science ID 000576664200020
View details for PubMedID 32929033
View details for PubMedCentralID PMC7533839
- Self-adaptive flexible valve as passive flow regulator EXTREME MECHANICS LETTERS 2020; 39
- Micromechanics Study on Actuation Efficiency of Hard-Magnetic Soft Active Materials JOURNAL OF APPLIED MECHANICS-TRANSACTIONS OF THE ASME 2020; 87 (9)
- Evolutionary Algorithm-Guided Voxel-Encoding Printing of Functional Hard-Magnetic Soft Active Materials ADVANCED INTELLIGENT SYSTEMS 2020; 2 (8)
- Magnetoactuated Reconfigurable Antennas on Hard-Magnetic Soft Substrates and E-Threads IEEE TRANSACTIONS ON ANTENNAS AND PROPAGATION 2020; 68 (8): 5882-5892
Magnetic Shape Memory Polymers with Integrated Multifunctional Shape Manipulation
2020; 32 (4): e1906657
Shape-programmable soft materials that exhibit integrated multifunctional shape manipulations, including reprogrammable, untethered, fast, and reversible shape transformation and locking, are highly desirable for a plethora of applications, including soft robotics, morphing structures, and biomedical devices. Despite recent progress, it remains challenging to achieve multiple shape manipulations in one material system. Here, a novel magnetic shape memory polymer composite is reported to achieve this. The composite consists of two types of magnetic particles in an amorphous shape memory polymer matrix. The matrix softens via magnetic inductive heating of low-coercivity particles, and high-remanence particles with reprogrammable magnetization profiles drive the rapid and reversible shape change under actuation magnetic fields. Once cooled, the actuated shape can be locked. Additionally, varying the particle loadings for heating enables sequential actuation. The integrated multifunctional shape manipulations are further exploited for applications including soft magnetic grippers with large grabbing force, reconfigurable antennas, and sequential logic for computing.
View details for DOI 10.1002/adma.201906657
View details for Web of Science ID 000501295500001
View details for PubMedID 31814185
Symmetry-Breaking Actuation Mechanism for Soft Robotics and Active Metamaterials
ACS APPLIED MATERIALS & INTERFACES
2019; 11 (44): 41649-41658
Magnetic-responsive composites that consist of a soft matrix embedded with hard-magnetic particles have recently been demonstrated as robust soft active materials for fast-transforming actuation. However, the deformation of the functional components commonly attains only a single actuation mode under external stimuli, which limits their capability of achieving tunable properties. To greatly enhance the versatility of soft active materials, we exploit a new class of programmable magnetic-responsive composites incorporated with a multifunctional joint design that allows asymmetric multimodal actuation under an external stimulation. We demonstrate that the proposed asymmetric multimodal actuation enables a plethora of novel applications ranging from the basic one-dimensional/two-dimensional (2D) active structures with asymmetric shape-shifting to biomimetic crawling robots, swimming robots with efficient dynamic performance, and 2D metamaterials with tunable properties. This new asymmetric multimodal actuation mechanism will open up new avenues for the design of next-generation multifunctional soft robots, biomedical devices, and acoustic metamaterials.
View details for DOI 10.1021/acsami.9b13840
View details for Web of Science ID 000495769900071
View details for PubMedID 31578851
- Mechanics of hard-magnetic soft materials JOURNAL OF THE MECHANICS AND PHYSICS OF SOLIDS 2019; 124: 244-263
Soft wall-climbing robots
2018; 3 (25)
Existing robots capable of climbing walls mostly rely on rigid actuators such as electric motors, but soft wall-climbing robots based on muscle-like actuators have not yet been achieved. Here, we report a tethered soft robot capable of climbing walls made of wood, paper, and glass at 90° with a speed of up to 0.75 body length per second and multimodal locomotion, including climbing, crawling, and turning. This soft wall-climbing robot is enabled by (i) dielectric-elastomer artificial muscles that generate fast periodic deformation of the soft robotic body, (ii) electroadhesive feet that give spatiotemporally controlled adhesion of different parts of the robot on the wall, and (iii) a control strategy that synchronizes the body deformation and feet electroadhesion for stable climbing. We further demonstrate that our soft robot could carry a camera to take videos in a vertical tunnel, change its body height to navigate through a confined space, and follow a labyrinth-like planar trajectory. Our soft robot mimicked the vertical climbing capability and the agile adaptive motions exhibited by soft organisms.
View details for DOI 10.1126/scirobotics.aat2874
View details for Web of Science ID 000453903300001
View details for PubMedID 33141690
Controlled crack propagation for atomic precision handling of wafer-scale two-dimensional materials
2018; 362 (6415): 665-+
Although flakes of two-dimensional (2D) heterostructures at the micrometer scale can be formed with adhesive-tape exfoliation methods, isolation of 2D flakes into monolayers is extremely time consuming because it is a trial-and-error process. Controlling the number of 2D layers through direct growth also presents difficulty because of the high nucleation barrier on 2D materials. We demonstrate a layer-resolved 2D material splitting technique that permits high-throughput production of multiple monolayers of wafer-scale (5-centimeter diameter) 2D materials by splitting single stacks of thick 2D materials grown on a single wafer. Wafer-scale uniformity of hexagonal boron nitride, tungsten disulfide, tungsten diselenide, molybdenum disulfide, and molybdenum diselenide monolayers was verified by photoluminescence response and by substantial retention of electronic conductivity. We fabricated wafer-scale van der Waals heterostructures, including field-effect transistors, with single-atom thickness resolution.
View details for DOI 10.1126/science.aat8126
View details for Web of Science ID 000450474500036
View details for PubMedID 30309906
Folding artificial mucosa with cell- laden hydrogels guided by mechanics models
PROCEEDINGS OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
2018; 115 (29): 7503-7508
The surfaces of many hollow or tubular tissues/organs in our respiratory, gastrointestinal, and urogenital tracts are covered by mucosa with folded patterns. The patterns are induced by mechanical instability of the mucosa under compression due to constrained growth. Recapitulating this folding process in vitro will facilitate the understanding and engineering of mucosa in various tissues/organs. However, scant attention has been paid to address the challenge of reproducing mucosal folding. Here we mimic the mucosal folding process using a cell-laden hydrogel film attached to a prestretched tough-hydrogel substrate. The cell-laden hydrogel constitutes a human epithelial cell lining on stromal component to recapitulate the physiological feature of a mucosa. Relaxation of the prestretched tough-hydrogel substrate applies compressive strains on the cell-laden hydrogel film, which undergoes mechanical instability and evolves into morphological patterns. We predict the conditions for mucosal folding as well as the morphology of and strain in the folded artificial mucosa using a combination of theory and simulation. The work not only provides a simple method to fold artificial mucosa but also demonstrates a paradigm in tissue engineering via harnessing mechanical instabilities guided by quantitative mechanics models.
View details for DOI 10.1073/pnas.1802361115
View details for Web of Science ID 000438892600050
View details for PubMedID 29967135
View details for PubMedCentralID PMC6055139
Printing ferromagnetic domains for untethered fast-transforming soft materials
2018; 558 (7709): 274-+
Soft materials capable of transforming between three-dimensional (3D) shapes in response to stimuli such as light, heat, solvent, electric and magnetic fields have applications in diverse areas such as flexible electronics1,2, soft robotics3,4 and biomedicine5-7. In particular, magnetic fields offer a safe and effective manipulation method for biomedical applications, which typically require remote actuation in enclosed and confined spaces8-10. With advances in magnetic field control 11 , magnetically responsive soft materials have also evolved from embedding discrete magnets 12 or incorporating magnetic particles 13 into soft compounds to generating nonuniform magnetization profiles in polymeric sheets14,15. Here we report 3D printing of programmed ferromagnetic domains in soft materials that enable fast transformations between complex 3D shapes via magnetic actuation. Our approach is based on direct ink writing 16 of an elastomer composite containing ferromagnetic microparticles. By applying a magnetic field to the dispensing nozzle while printing 17 , we reorient particles along the applied field to impart patterned magnetic polarity to printed filaments. This method allows us to program ferromagnetic domains in complex 3D-printed soft materials, enabling a set of previously inaccessible modes of transformation, such as remotely controlled auxetic behaviours of mechanical metamaterials with negative Poisson's ratios. The actuation speed and power density of our printed soft materials with programmed ferromagnetic domains are orders of magnitude greater than existing 3D-printed active materials. We further demonstrate diverse functions derived from complex shape changes, including reconfigurable soft electronics, a mechanical metamaterial that can jump and a soft robot that crawls, rolls, catches fast-moving objects and transports a pharmaceutical dose.
View details for DOI 10.1038/s41586-018-0185-0
View details for Web of Science ID 000435071400050
View details for PubMedID 29899476
Kirigami enhances film adhesion
2018; 14 (13): 2515-2525
Structures of thin films bonded on substrates have been used in technologies as diverse as flexible electronics, soft robotics, bio-inspired adhesives, thermal-barrier coatings, medical bandages, wearable devices and living devices. The current paradigm for maintaining adhesion of films on substrates is to make the films thinner, and more compliant and adhesive, but these requirements can compromise the function or fabrication of film-substrate structures. For example, there are limits on how thin, compliant and adhesive epidermal electronic devices can be fabricated and still function reliably. Here we report a new paradigm that enhances adhesion of films on substrates via designing rational kirigami cuts in the films without changing the thickness, rigidity or adhesiveness of the films. We find that the effective enhancement of adhesion by kirigami is due to (i) the shear-lag effect of the film segments; (ii) partial debonding at the film segments' edges; and (iii) compatibility of kirigami films with inhomogeneous deformation of substrates. While kirigami has been widely used to program thin sheets with desirable shapes and mechanical properties, fabricate electronics with enhanced stretchability and design the assembly of three-dimensional microstructures, this paper gives the first systematic study on kirigami enhancing film adhesion. We further demonstrate novel applications including a kirigami bandage, a kirigami heat pad and printed kirigami electronics.
View details for DOI 10.1039/c7sm02338c
View details for Web of Science ID 000435122100001
View details for PubMedID 29537019
- Multimodal Surface Instabilities in Curved Film-Substrate Structures JOURNAL OF APPLIED MECHANICS-TRANSACTIONS OF THE ASME 2017; 84 (8)
- The primary bilayer ruga-phase diagram I: Localizations in ruga evolution EXTREME MECHANICS LETTERS 2015; 4: 76-82
- Ruga mechanics of creasing: from instantaneous to setback creases PROCEEDINGS OF THE ROYAL SOCIETY A-MATHEMATICAL PHYSICAL AND ENGINEERING SCIENCES 2013; 469 (2157)