Our Research

Our projects and initiatives are designed to develop global excellence in next-generation flexible electronics, robotics, and manufacturing technologies in Kentucky.

KY NSF EPSCoR Headquarters
Working in collaboration with the National Science Foundation (NSF), Kentucky NSF EPSCoR assists to strengthen research and education in science and engineering. The vision of the KY NSF EPSCoR is to advance, encourage and develop long term improvements in scientific discovery, innovation and education throughout the Commonwealth.

Our Mission

Advancing Kentucky’s Manufacturing Partnerships in Enhanced Robotics and Structures

Kentucky’s Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (KY NSF EPSCoR), sponsored by the National Science Foundation, is a vital part of a coordinated effort to invest in scientific research for a better quality-of-life and a growing economy for Kentuckians.
KY NSF EPSCoR leverages existing expertise in: (1) materials for printed electronics; (2) sensing; (3) printable fiber formation and 3D structure formation; (4) robotics, and (5) human-technology interactions to create new paradigms in the field of structural electronics and advance the Human-Machine Interface frontier by introducing novel interfaces for electronically-augmented robotics and physical structures. The scientific challenge is to merge 3D printing with the emerging field of printed electronics to revolutionize the capabilities of robotic manufacturing infrastructure, medical assistive robots, prosthetics, and consumer products.

Research Thrusts and Workforce Development Initiatives

Developing a sustainable research infrastructure
throughout the Commonwealth.

#1 Develop new sensing modalities designed to be integrated into structural robotic components, along with multi-functional materials required to serve as electronic interconnects and insulators. This research thrust develops the materials and fabrication processes needed to embed electronic function into structural components, and involves developing new materials, device configurations, and structural forms for demonstration of basic logic, sensing, and data processing arising from co-printed electronic and structural elements, along with on-board power generation and storage.

#2 Fully integrate sensing, logic, and communication into structures using 3D printing and related techniques, and develop the necessary general processes to allow these structures to take the wide variety of forms needed for robotic and other systems. This research thrust creates the printing environment and protocols for structurally-integrated electronics, including approaches to interconnecting devices, data input and output.

#3 Develop enhanced, adaptive software and feedback modes to maximize impact of increased sensing capabilities, and bring collaborative Human Machine Interfaces (HMIs) to the level needed for advanced manufacturing and health care applications. This thrust will utilize extensive sensor data from structures made in thrust 1 and 2 to create the next generation of Collaborative Human-Machine Interfaces (CHMIs), broadly defined as the intelligent connection between novel multimodal arrays of sensors monitoring users and the environment, and collaborative control decisions and actions taken by machines to assist their human users.

#4 Test prototype enhanced robotic systems in manufacturing environments.  This research thrust tests structurally-embedded electronic systems and controlling software in real-world applications. Testbeds can include co-robotic part manipulation and assembly, manufacturing of MEMS devices, and machine shop and maintenance environments. Feedback from this task will be essential to optimizing and enhancing components from research thrusts 1-4.

#5 Explore synthetic biology approaches to yield structural materials with programmable lifetimes, to reduce generation of persistent electronic waste.

#6 Attract, train, and retain a diverse workforce with specific robotics and advanced manufacturing knowledge and skills to meet industry needs and/or continue to higher levels of educational attainment.