About Christoph M. Keplinger's Work
The biological world and the engineered world differ in terms of mechanics: human-made machines mostly rely on hard materials, such as metals, while nature makes extensive use of soft materials, with extreme examples like octopus arms. The elegance, adaptability, and efficiency of the designs found in nature inspire the creation of soft machines with unprecedented capabilities. My lab aims to fundamentally challenge current limits of performance of soft machines, using an interdisciplinary approach that synergizes concepts from soft matter physics and chemistry with advanced engineering technologies. Major themes of research include the development of high-performance, muscle-mimetic actuators based on soft, electroactive structures that replicate the sweeping success of biological muscle, as well as the discovery of soft-matter-based energy harvesting systems that provide sustainable solutions for the use of untapped sources of renewable energy, such as ocean waves.