Zixuan Deng – ESR 11





Zixuan Deng obtained his Bachelor degree (B.Sc.) in Mineral Processing Engineering from Xi’an University of Science and Technology, and his Master degree (M.Sc.) in Chemistry and Physics of Polymers from South China Normal University. In his master study in 2019, he was selected to an exchange program to Eindhoven University of Technology for half a year. In June 2021, he joined STORM-BOTS as the ESR11 and is working with the Smart Photonic Materials Group at Tampere University while pursuing his PhD in Chemistry. His research focuses on the design of light-fuelled soft robotics going underwater.

Research Interests

Liquid crystal elastomer, soft robotics, multi-responsiveness, underwater

Research project: ESR 11 – Light-Fuelled Robotics: Going under Water

Light robots are soft systems whose mechanical movements are fuelled by light. They provide an attractive platform for remotely controlled soft robotic systems such as grippers, walkers, and swimmers. Among different classes of light-controllable materials, liquid crystal elastomers (LCEs) stand out because of their large deformability, efficient light response, and programmability/patterning ability via technologies adapted from the liquid crystal display industry. Recent advances in light robotics include autonomous systems that receive feedback from the environment or undergo locomotion under stationary light fields, and reversibly reconfigurable actuators that are able to adapt different shapes under identical stimulus. Building on these advances, this ESR will focus on LCE systems that act efficiently not only in air, but also under water, a goal especially pertinent to the biomedical field, and materials/surfaces that are sensitive not only to light, but also to humidity.


Planned secondments: TUE (Dirk Broer) to optimize the humidity- and light-sensitive actuators; Lyncee tec (company secondment) to adapt digital holographic microscopy for high-resolution real-time morphological characterisation.

PhD programme – University: Doctoral Programme in Engineering and Natural Sciences – Tampere University