Research is an act of creativity. Scientific concepts and techniques for researchers are like sound for musicians, or words for writers, or colours for painters; they are the medium of scientific creativity. Like creativity in arts, creativity in science requires mastering its medium.
As a new group, we first seek to develop expertise in building automation platforms for materials synthesis and fabrication, such as 3D/4D printing, for some immediate applications in energy, robotics, and medicine. We will then extend these platforms to include materials characterization tools and AI-based decision-making algorithms to form feedback loops in the automation process. The long-term vision of this technology development is to build customizable automation platforms for materials discovery, in particular, for bio-inspired and life-like materials or materials systems.
Scientifically, we are interested in the interaction between information and energy, specifically the concrete manifestation of this interaction in materials or materials systems. Of particular interest is droplet-based systems. Droplets are easy to make and to control. Their resemblance to biological cells makes them particularly suitable for the exploration of various concepts in programmable active matter, such as computation, communications, and evolution.