Research Activities at LMTS

The EPFL-LMTS develops:

  • Elastomer-based actuators and sensors,
  • Haptic displays,
  • MEMS and Printed Microsystems.

CURRENT RESEARCH TOPICS


1. Miniaturized Elastomer Actuators

We are widely recognized for our innovative fabrication techniques and elegant applications of Dielectric Elastomer Actuators (DEAs). DEAs are flexible and stretchable devices consist of a polymer membrane which can be electrically actuated, providing different types of motion at speeds of up to several kHz, deformations of over 80%, and very low power consumption.
Our focus is on complex soft machines and soft robots.


2. Wearable Haptic Displays

finger with feel-through haptic deviceWe develop arrays of low-power flexible actuators for tactile and haptic displays for VR, AR and to allow blind and visually-impaired users to access dynamic graphical information.


3. MEMS and Printed Microsystems (Dr. Briand)


3.1 Smart Systems on Foil

There has been growing interest to replace silicon sensors with polymer-based devices. By making use of polymer sheets and large-scale manufacturing techniques-such as inkjet printing and roll-to-roll processing-rather than silicon wafers and traditional microfabrication tools, one can achieve significant cost and energy savings. Plastic and paper offer many other benefits such as reduced weight, improved flexibility, conformability and ease of disposal. As such, the development of electronics and MEMS-on-foil technology enables one to integrate autonomous sensing systems where it was impossible to imagine them before. Smart systems on plastic foil represent a key technology for the realization of cost-effective smart sensing labels that would contribute significantly to the deployment of the Internet of Things.

3.2 Energy Harvesting and PowerMEMS

Demand for micro power sources is expected to increase significantly with the widespread and growing use of compact information and communication devices with many advanced features. Application of micro- and nanotechnology to the development of distributed, scaled micro-power systems, Energy and PowerMEMS, will produce systems that hopefully save energy and preserve the environment. Integrating situ power generation and harvesting reduces waste by producing energy locally-where and when it is needed-and provides greater autonomy to wireless systems. Combined with ultra-low power, multi-sensing elements with wireless communication it will enable a new range of applications. Our research and development efforts are focused on energy harvesters and energy autonomous smart systems.

3.3 Green Monitoring and Microtechnologies

We address the development and applications of different types of Microsystems that can bring benefits to the environment and human beings, by improving the quality of the environment, reducing emission of pollutants and saving energy. We are creating a range of environmental monitoring microsystems for pollution monitoring, and improved comfort and safety. Lately efforts are dedicated to the integration of sensors to meet the requirements of low-cost and low-power applications (e.g. wireless systems). We tackle also the production and operation aspects of the devices and systems developed, by doing research on low-cost and environmentally friendly printing processes and on ultra-low power electronics and modes of operation.