Structural Engineering

Aerospace Biological Civil Geotechnical Mechanical

Deployable Wearable Systems for Warfighter Protection and Performance

Seminar Speaker
Professor Ken J. Loh
Seminar Date
Wednesday, Apr 14, 2021 - 12:00 pm
Sponsored By
Robert Asaro
Speaker Bio

Professor Loh is the Director of his research group, the Active, Responsive, Multifunctional, and Ordered-materials Research (ARMOR) Laboratory. ARMOR Lab’s research mission is centered on designing, characterizing, and implementing game-changing, multifunctional material systems for safeguarding our critical structural and human assets. By encoding specific engineering functionalities within a single material architecture, they can be integrated with or even replace conventional materials to bear loads while simultaneously performing sensing, actuation, damping, energy harvesting, and/or healing. By pushing the frontiers of multifunctional materials and smart systems’ design, the ARMOR Lab focuses on building materials starting at molecular length scales while utilizing “bottom-up” assembly for tailoring bulk materials with precise and desired performance attributes. The research community will be able to achieve resilient systems that can sense, resist, respond, and adapt to various operating environments and multiple hazards through continued and innovative developments in multifunctional materials, scalable nano-manufacturing, and implementation/testing. Professor Loh joined the Department of Structural Engineering at UC San Diego as an Associate Professor in 2015. Prior to this, he held the titles of Assistant Professor (2009-2013) and Associate Professor with tenure (2013-2015) in the Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering at UC Davis. He received his Ph.D. degree in Civil Engineering from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor in 2008. At Michigan, he also completed two M.S. degrees in Materials Science & Engineering (2008) and Civil Engineering (2005). His B.S. degree in Civil Engineering was from Johns Hopkins University in 2004.

Military service members, particularly those in training or deployed in the theater of war, are exposed to extreme conditions that jeopardize their health, safety, and performance. New sensing capabilities that enable continuous, real-time, and secure monitoring of warfighter capabilities will not only enhance their performance, force lethality, and operational readiness but also prevent injuries, improve retention on duty, and facilitate faster return to duty post-injury. This presentation showcases how stimuli-responsive materials coupled with unique measurement strategies/algorithms can provide new data streams and insights on warfighter health and performance. The focus will be on discussing recent developments of nanocomposite wearable sensors for physical and physiological monitoring. The approach is to integrate, by different advanced manufacturing methods, strain-sensitive and carbon-nanomaterial-based thin films with conformable substrates that can be worn or directly affixed onto the body. In addition, densely distributed motion and muscular engagement monitoring can be achieved when wearable sensors are coupled with an electrical impedance tomography (EIT) method. Besides their use for assessing the physiological performance of healthy warfighters, a portion of this seminar will also demonstrate how this technology can be adapted and applied for wounded service members, amputees, and socket prosthesis users. As an extension, implantable sensors (e.g., for monitoring infection) and noninvasive, noncontact methods to acquire sensor data will also be summarized. Overall, the technologies presented can find numerous applications for warfighter health monitoring, performance assessment, tailored training activities, and active rehabilitation.



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