- Course: Mechanical Engineering PhD
- PhD title: Fully elastomeric soft sensor
Xingtian Zhang is a postgraduate researcher carrying out his PhD in Mechanical Engineering. He is based in the Surgical Technologies Lab and works alongside Drs Peter Culmer and Ali Alazmani.
Building a career in research
Xingtian described his journey to pursuing a research degree and the skills he has acquired as a result of his studies.
He said: “Academic research is always my dream career since I was a child. Pursuing an academic role involves a lot of curiosity, plenty of concentration and insistence, and continuous discovery, but it is full of self-achievement.
“Taking part in a PhD is an excellent start for my future research career. I expect to build fundamental and basic research skills in my PhD, which will be good bricks to build up my own tower of science and techniques.”
Pursuing an academic role involves a lot of curiosity, plenty of concentration and insistence, and continuous discovery, but it is full of self-achievement.
Enhancing the application of soft sensors
Xingtian’s research focuses on soft sensors, including the fabrication of soft polymers and hydrogels, as well as sensing techniques and the applications of soft sensors.
“My research starts with a very interesting project about variable stiffness in soft sensors,” Xingtian said.
“A dome-shape membrane is created by a fabrics re-enforced silicone elastomer to undertake air pressure, which is controlled by a pneumatic system with the aim of changing stiffness in the fabrics-silicone complex. This complex collaborates with a magnet and a magnetic sensor to measure force.”
He continued: “My research focus is to cover a gap which has become identifiable among soft tactile sensors. By combining conductive hydrogels and elastomeric polymers, a more capable tactile sensor on stretchability, accuracy, practicality is expected to be investigated.
“Conductive hydrogel is my main concern in this project: An optically clear, highly stretchable, and electrically conductive hydrogel is a good sensing material. My aim is to characterizing both the mechanical and electrical properties of this hydrogel to achieve better application in soft sensors.”
Postgraduate life at Leeds
“University of Leeds is a friendly and diverse place, with world-class equipment and research team. I can always get effective support on my research,” Xingtian said, as he explained how being a part of the postgraduate community at Leeds supports his life as a researcher.
He added: “Being part of the diverse and international research team, I feel proud and motivated to initiate a high standard of work.”
University of Leeds is a friendly and diverse place, with world-class equipment and research team. I can always get effective support...
Xingtian is part of the Surgical Technologies research group at Leeds. Learn more about the group’s focus by viewing their research page.