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SPIE Smart Structures/Nondestructive Evaluation 2017 news + photos

What a great event — see you next year in Denver, 4–8 March!


Intriguing advances, valuable networking

EAP-in-Action demos, Smart Structures 2017

Among many fascinating technology demonstrations and research reports,
the highly advanced robot "Sophia" from Hanson Robotics drew an
engaged audience during the EAP-in-Action Demonstration session Sunday evening.
University of Nevada, Las Vegas, EAP-in-action demonstration team

The University of Nevada, Las Vegas,
EAP-in-Action Demonstration team
readies for the event.
SPIE Smart Structures/NDE 2017 welcome reception

Conference attendees enjoy the
SPIE Smart Structures/NDE 2017
welcome reception.
John Madden, course instructor, SPIE Smart Structures/NDE 2017

A section on gel actuators was added to the
well-attended half-day EAPAD course held on
Sunday. Instructors were John Madden (above,
University of British Columbia), Qibing Pei
(University of California Los Angeles), and,
new this year, Geoffrey Spinks
(University of Wollongong).
SPIE Smart Structures/NDE 2017 student lunch with experts

Students and experts alike enjoyed a
casual lunch Monday afternoon, with
opportunity for those at the beginning
of their careers having a chance t
hear first-hand about the experiences —
and learn from the wisdom of —
experts in their fields of interest.


‘Friendly, caring’ artificial intelligence

David Hanson, Yoseph Bar-Cohen

David Hanson, at left, with
EAP chair Yoseph Bar-Cohen

David Hanson of Hanson Robotics Ltd. gave a fascinating plenary talk Sunday morning on electroactive polymer (EAP) artificial muscle actuators that offer advantages for bio-inspired robotics such as robotic locomotion, grasping and manipulation, and social expressions, surveying opportunities and challenges and providing a road map for EAP actuators in intelligent robotics.

EAP actuators better approximate the properties of biological muscle, relative to conventional motors, Hanson said, and offer the potential for human-scale robots to be used in television, hospitality and healthcare applications.

To do this, EAP actuators still require industrialization, integration with product, and manufacturing at reasonable prices.

Ultimately, by learning sensing, locomotion, and social interactions through interactions between humans and robots, artificial intelligence (AI) can be applied to create robot characters as intuitive interfaces — “computers that understand us” — resulting in that “friendly, caring, human-robot relations.”

Sophia,” the most advanced robot developed by Hanson Robotics, provided a powerful illustration for Hanson’s talk, interacted with curious attendees who were engaged by her realistic human facial expressions and responses.


Temperature-based sensing

Chiara Daraio, Theodoros Matikas, Yoseph Bar-Cohen

Chiara Daraio, at left, with symposium chair
Theodoros Matikas and
EAP chair Yoseph Bar-Cohen

Continuing the theme of bioinspired design, Chiara Daraio, professor of Aeronautics and Applied Physics at Caltech, gave a plenary presentation Sunday morning on fabricating synthetic materials that combine carbon nanoparticles and a matrix of plant cells to create a temperature sensitive pectin film with record breaking responsivity. The film is then integrated into synthetic skins for robotics, prosthetics, and other applications.

One of the beautiful things about natural materials is their multifunctional properties, Daraio said. Plants, for example, are so sensitive that they actually record a temperature change when a human walks past, without even touching the plant.

Films over silicon wafers can measure thermal touch sensitivity. Daraio’s lab constructed temperature-based touch sensitivity, rather than pressure-based, with potential uses in biomedical and electronics applications.

“We can now explore all of the possibilities of these temperature-sensing biomaterials,” she said.


Improving healthcare

Keynote speaker Siegfried Bauer of Johannes Kepler University Linz gave a captivating presentation Sunday morning in the EAPAD conference (10163-1), on electroactive phenomena in natural materials.

Bauer stressed the importance of widening the use of EAPs in mobile healthcare (mHealth), in biomedical applications, and for prosthetic limbs. “I think a lot of excitement in the future will be in mHealth,” including taking advantage of a modular approach to measurement that allows monitoring specific parts of the body, Bauer said.


Honoring lifetime achievements

Tribikram Kundu and Jianmin Qu

Jianmin Qu, right, with
symposium co-chair Tribikram Kundu
Ralph Smith and Jayanth Kudva

Ralph Smith, right, with
symposium chair Jayanth Kudva

The 2017 NDE Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to Jianmin Qu, professor and Dean of the School of Engineering at Tufts University, where he holds an appointment in the department of mechanical engineering. Qu received his Ph.D. and master's degrees from Northwestern University in theoretical and applied mechanics, was the Walter P. Murphy Professor in the McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science at Northwestern University, and was on the faculty of the School of Mechanical Engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology.

The 2017 SSM Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to Ralph Smith, Distinguished Professor of Mathematics at North Carolina State University. He is co-author of the two books on smart materials systems, serves of the editorial board of two journals, and has served as chair of the SPIE Smart Structures/NDE conference on Modeling, Signal Processing, and Control.


Popular as ever: EAP-in-Action demos

SPIE Smart Structures/NDE 2017 EAPAD demonstration session SPIE Smart Structures/NDE 2017 EAPAD demonstration session
SPIE Smart Structures/NDE 2017 EAPAD demonstration session SPIE Smart Structures/NDE 2017 EAPAD demonstration session SPIE Smart Structures/NDE 2017 EAPAD demonstration session

EAPAD conference chair Yoseph Bar-Cohen of the Jet Propulsion Lab hosted another popular session of demonstrations, with the 19th annual EAP-In-Action drawing a large crowd Sunday evening eager to learn more about electroactive polymers. Fifteen unique demonstrations, from robotic applications to wearables, displayed the potential EAPs have across various disciplines.

Technology ranged from shape-morphing and sensing EAP-based materials with promising uses in prosthetics to an inchworm robot mechanism that can remotely inspect inaccessible or dangerous pipes.

EAP-in-Action competition winners were:

  • First place: Multilayered PVC gel artificial muscle, Minoru Hashimoto, Yi Li, Aya Suzuki, Hanako Niwa, and Rina Yokotsuka, Shinshu University
  • Second place: DEA-driven vibratory feeder, Steffen Hau, Mathias Hoffmann, and Stefan Seelecke, Universität des Saarlandes
  • Third place: Multilocation sensing on one input/output and EAP zoo, Markus Henke, Patrin Illenberger, Katie Wilson, Andreas Tairych, Chris Walker, and Iain Anderson, Biomimetic Lab, Auckland Bioengineering Institute.


Congratulations to a new Fellow!

Hani Naguib, Christopher Lynch

Hani Naguib, left, with Christopher Lynch

Hani Naguib of the University of Toronto was recognized as a new Fellow of SPIE during the plenary session opening on Monday.

Naguib is among the leading scientists working on smart and multifunctional materials development and characterization, and renowned for his research on the design and development of electro-active polymers used for flexible and wearable electronics in biomedical and energy applications including sensors, actuators, and energy storage and harvesting devices.

The presentation was made by SPIE Fellow Christopher Lynch of the University of California, Los Angeles.


Predictive simulations to prevent aircraft ‘unzipping'

Victor Giurgiutui

Victor Giurgiutiu speaks to a
standing-room-only audience

Victor Giurgiutiu of the University of South Carolina gave a plenary presentation Monday on predictive simulations of structural health monitoring (SHM). Giurgiutiu shared several interesting examples from his work and demonstrated the importance of SHM with a case study on aircraft experiencing fatigue damage between rivet holes, resulting in an "unzipping" of the splice joint.

Giurgiutiu noted that although study of SHM has just begun, simulations can be used to prevent these kinds of problems in the future, especially when used in accordance with the most current and common practice of nondestructive inspection.


Starting with ‘Star Wars' initiative: adaptive structures

James Hubbard

James Hubbard shares perspective
on adaptive structures development

Plenary speaker James Hubbard of the University of Maryland, College Park, on Monday gave a historical perspective on adaptive structures. He explained that the field of smart structures began with the Ronald Reagan "Star Wars" initiative — a directive to put a shield over the entire United States to protect the country from air attack. What this entailed was putting up sensors — space-based radar antennas. Research that began to tackle this challenge led to the field now known as smart structures.

Tasked with an imperative to design a weightless transducer, Hubbard developed a transducer film: a continuous layer of piezoelectric material that senses vibration and applies its own electric force to dampen the vibrations. This was a first in the field, and gained immediate and unexpected worldwide attention.

Since then, he has seen commercialization of many of his sensor designs, including a smart skin for automobile airbags, which was developed to address the problem of deployed airbags causing harm to the people they were designed to save. His sensor was embedded in the car seat and collects information about the occupants' weight and position. The feedback from the sensors allows the airbag to adjust to the conditions of the crash and deploy at a lower speed or not at all.

Hubbard isn't done dreaming. He envisions an organic aircraft that can be grown, with single-walled carbon nanotube bones and piezo-nerves.


Stretchable wearables for sensing and therapy

Nanshu Lu

Nanshu Lu discusses wearable sensors

Nanshu Lu of the University of Texas, Austin, discussed innovative noninvasive, skin-conformable, stretchable sensors and electronics capable of continuous and long-term physiological sensing and clinical therapy, in a keynote talk Monday on epidermal electronic systems for sensing and therapy (10176-19) in the Nano-, Bio-, Info-Tech Sensors and 3D Systems conference.

Lu demonstrated four examples, emphasizing the cost and time efficiency of epidermal electronics developed from "cut-and-paste" manufacturing of silicon for wearable sensors using a US$300 programmable mechanical cutter developed for paper arts.

This same method was successfully used to create sensors using graphene, which stay on the skin without adhesive or tape.

Near-term applications for these sensors include integrated blood pressure and glucose measurement. Lu and her team are also working on engineering microneedles for drug delivery based on polymer needles that degrade when heated, releasing the drug into the skin.

The goal is to cheaply produce these wearable electronics so that consumers and doctors can afford to replace them every 10 days, since this is the threshold at which the accumulation of dead skin cells begin to cause the signal to decay.


Versatile, impressive: 3D printing demonstrations

SPIE Smart Structures/NDE 2017 3D Printing demonstration session SPIE Smart Structures/NDE 2017 3D Printing demonstration session SPIE Smart Structures/NDE 2017 3D Printing demonstration session
SPIE Smart Structures/NDE 2017 3D Printing demonstration session SPIE Smart Structures/NDE 2017 3D Printing demonstration session SPIE Smart Structures/NDE 2017 3D Printing demonstration session

Eleven 3D printing demonstrations Monday evening showed the wide versatility of the technology, from models of protein molecules to robots inspired by caterpillars..


Industry 4.0: A new frontier driven by innovation

Norbert Meyendorf plenary talk at SPIE Smart Structures/NDE 2017

Norbert Meyendorf demonstrates
IoT integration for Industry 4.0.

Norbert Meyendorf of Iowa State University gave an informative plenary presentation Tuesday morning on Industry 4.0 — the fourth industrial revolution— which is characterized by the integration of production and communication technologies in “smart factories.”

Meyendorf discussed and demonstrated the need to adapt NDE techniques to new technologies in order to overcome challenges in this new era.

He emphasized that there is a lot of potential to integrate the Internet of Things with NDE and NDT; it’s a new frontier, driven by innovation. As the field develops, he suggests that NDE should follow the same process of diagnosis and referrals as the medical profession, which is a useful model.


Enhanced structural performance through test-analysis strategies

David Ewins plenary talk at SPIE Smart Structures/NDE 2017

David Ewins describes a method for
improved safety through evaluation and testing.

David Ewins of the Imperial College London in Tuesday’s second plenary talk described an integrated test-analysis strategy for ensuring that next-generation structures of all types exhibit much improved reliability in their structural performance through advances in predictive methods of simulation.

Speaking from a background working with jet engines, Ewins noted that structural dynamics challenges are almost always associated with commercial viability and many have life-threatening implications

Ewins also discussed how NDE is often used after there is a problem, when in actuality, there are many benefits of using it to anticipate the problem before it happens. He proposed the Structural Dynamist’s Toolkit: theoretical modelling, numerical analysis, experimental measurements, and tests. The goal would be to design structures that have reliable, predictable, and cost-effective structural performance, using a mathematical model capable of describing a structures dynamic response under a wide range of conditions to a specified accuracy.


One-on-one with the authors at the poster session

SPIE Smart Structures/NDE 2017 poster reception SPIE Smart Structures/NDE 2017 poster reception
SPIE Smart Structures/NDE 2017 poster reception SPIE Smart Structures/NDE 2017 poster reception

With more than 150 posters from 11 conferences, attendees had ample opportunity to ask questions and network with authors at the poster reception Tuesday evening.


Congratulations! Best Student Paper Awards

SPIE Smart Structures/NDE 2017 SPIE Best Student Paper Award winners

From left, presenter Darren Hartl and
winners Venkata Siva Chilara, Francesco
Danzi, and Caleb Christianson.

Recognition for excellent work was made Tuesday with best-paper awards to student authors.

Winners of 2017 SPIE Best Student Paper Awards are pictured at right; from left are program committee member Darren Hartl of Texas A&M University, with:

  • Third place, Venkata Siva Chilara, Ohio State University: 10165-28 Bistable morphing composites with selectively prestressed laminae.
  • Second place, Francesco Danzi, Politecnico di Torino: 10164-56 Topology synthesis of planar ground structures for energy harvesting applications
  • First place, Caleb Christianson, University of California, San Diego: 10163-57 Fluid electrodes for submersible robotics based on dielecric elastomer actuators

Honored with the 2017 Bioinspiration, Biomimetics, and Bioreplication Best Student Paper Awards, In Memory of H. Don Wolpert, were:

  • First place, Marta Scali, Universiteit Delft: 10162-5 Design and evaluation of a wasp-inspired steerable needle
  • Second place, Sofiya Matviykiv, Universität Basel: 10162-8 Liposomes: bio-inspired containers for physically triggered drug delivery
  • Third place, Sheyda Davaria, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University: 10162-14 MEMS scale active artificial hair cell sensors inspired by the cochlear amplifier effect.


Tribute and remembrance

Smart materials pioneer Daniel Inman was honored in a tribute conference (10172) on Wednesday and luncheon on Thursday. Inman has made fundamental advances in several areas, such as self-sensing actuation, energy harvesting, structural health monitoring, and morphing structures, and has inspired many through his teaching, mentoring, collegiality, and sense of humor. Chairs were Donald Leo, University of Georgia, and Pablo Tarazaga, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University.

Eric Cross

Eric Cross

Zoubeida Ounaies of Pennsylvania State University offered a memorial presentation for former Penn State colleague Eric Cross during the opening of Sunday’s plenary session.

Professor Cross was a world leader in ferroelectrics, as well as an inventor of new characterization techniques and materials applications. He participated in the inaugural Smart Structures/Nondestructive Evaluation symposium in 1993 and was a mentor to many of the current leaders in the community. He died in December 2016.


Media coverage

Ants, bees, and octopuses: bioinspired robotics, drones, and smart structures

Temperature-sensitive technology for artificial skins: smart structures

Annual SPIE Smart Structures event moves to Oregon



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SPIE Smart Structures + NDE

25-29 March 2017
Portland, Oregon, USA



See reports, photos, and video
from last year's event