An illustrative image of magnetic cilia robots
Magnetic Cilia Robots

The Young Investigator Award (YIA) from Extreme Mechanics Letters (EML) honours the best young researchers who have published highly impactful papers in EML.

EML publishes rapid communication of research that highlights the role of mechanics in multi-disciplinary areas across materials science, physics, chemistry, biology, medicine and engineering. Emphasis is on the impact, depth and originality of new concepts, methods and observations at the forefront of applied sciences.

The YIA is awarded annually to the paper's corresponding authors who received their PhD no more than ten years before the award year.

This year, seven young researchers received nominations from documents published in EML in Volumes 57-62 from 2022 to 2023; two were eventually named the winners, including Dr Mingchao Liu, Assistant Professor at the University of Birmingham and Evgueni T. Filipov, Associate Professor, University of Michigan, USA.

Dr Liu was selected based on his two papers, "Modeling of magnetic cilia carpet robots using discrete differential geometry formulation", Extreme Mechanics Letters, Volume 59, P. 101967 (2023) and "A discrete model for the geometrically nonlinear mechanics of hard-magnetic slender structures", Extreme Mechanics Letters, Volume 59, P. 101977 (2023).

In the first, Dr Liu and collaborators developed a discrete magneto-elastic rod model for simulating the dynamic behaviours of hard-magnetic slender structures, notable for its high computational efficiency and applicability to complex micro-structures in varied environments, particularly in soft robotics.

The second paper extends this model to the dynamic analysis of bio-inspired cilia carpet robots driven by external magnetic fields. This framework is crucial for understanding microorganism biophysics and provides guidelines for designing bio-inspired soft robots for biomedical applications.

Dr Liu's research focuses on the mechanics of slender structures and their applications in modelling and designing robotic metamaterials with innovative functions, which include programmable robotic behaviours such as shape-morphing, multimodal locomotion, mechanical sensing, actuation, and memory, as well as tunable mechanical properties.

Receiving this prestigious award serves not only as a recognition of our previous research but also as a significant encouragement for my team and me to pursue further challenging endeavours in the field of mechanics of robotic metamaterials.

Dr Mingchao Liu

The winning papers are freely available to read online until 31 December 2024.

The prize includes a certificate from EML, an honorarium of 1500 USD, and an opportunity to give an EML Webinar (details of which will be available online).