Xu Zhang Defends Master’s Thesis on Micro-Robotic Membranes

Xu Zhang (left), a recent graduate of the Department of Mechanical Engineering and Applied Mechanics (MEAM), has successfully defended his master’s thesis titled “Optical Analysis of Buckling-Induced Micro-Robotic Membranes” under the advisor of Assistant Professor in Electrical and Systems Engineering, Marc Miskin. His research offers a novel framework for understanding the complex interplay between mechanical deformation and optical phenomena, contributing to the design and development of advanced optical devices such as reflective displays with customizable colors.

Micro-robotic membranes have garnered increasing interest due to their unique properties and potential applications in various fields. Zhang’s research addresses the primary challenges associated with understanding the mechanical-spectral interaction in these membranes. Traditional microscopic techniques such as atomic force microscopy (AFM) present limitations, particularly when voltage is applied. Meanwhile, hyperspectral imaging provides insights into the spectral response but cannot directly infer topological characteristics.

Zhang’s time at Penn was filled with stimulating academic experiences. “The rigorous academic environment and vibrant campus life at Penn have really inspired me,” comments Zhang. One highlight of his time was his thesis defense, where he had the opportunity to present his research to an engaged audience and an esteemed committee.

“I think the master’s journey is a transition from acquiring fundamental knowledge to exploring the deeper value of life and one’s potential contributions to the world,” he offers. “My advice to current and prospective students is to take a moment to think about how your abilities can make a significant impact, then put all your efforts into achieving it.”

Looking ahead, Zhang is set to pursue a Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.