Faculty Advisor

Onal, Cagdas Denizel

Faculty Advisor

Rao, Pratap M.

Faculty Advisor

Shivkumar, Satya


Soft actuators offer many benefits over conventional servomotors, including simplicity and scalability to the microscale. The goal was to produce a soft actuator material with an improved photothermal response by the addition of metal nanoparticles. The project consisted of fabrication and thermal and mechanical testing. An aluminum/silicone rubber nanocomposite was found to convert light into heat energy and contract under a pre-load. The computerized thermal model accurately predicted the experimental temperature measurements and the maximum temperature rise of 77 degrees C. The thermomechanical model was less accurate, with measured results attaining only half the strain predicted. Future research could consist of miniaturizing the material and integrating it with a mechanical system.


Worcester Polytechnic Institute

Date Accepted

April 2015


Mechanical Engineering

Project Type

Major Qualifying Project



Advisor Department

Mechanical Engineering