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The University of Southampton

EUROMECH Colloquium on Mechanics of Soft Active Polymers Event

24 - 25 August 2022
University of Southampton, Southampton, UK

Event details

Chairs: D. Yurchenko, M. Lallart, K. Volokh

The colloquium scope

With the rapid development of novel technologies in the area of robotics, smart textiles (including wearable sensors), wireless sensors networks and Internet of Things, autonomous systems, medical sensors and devices, additive manufacturing and assistive technologies, an unprecedented need has been experienced for flexible and versatile materials, capable of combining various chemical, electrical and mechanical properties.

Soft Active Polymers (SAPs) represent such a group of materials that is distinctly characterised by their ability to respond to external stimuli such as mechanical, electrical or magnetic fields, temperature or humidity, biological or chemical processes and so on. Moreover, SAPs possess a number of remarkable properties like flexibility and softness, large deformability and conformability, biocompatibility, sensitivity and responsiveness, low weight and scalability (from macro to micro/nano scale), which make these materials superior and cost-effective in certain applications compared to other materials. In particular, these features make them highly suitable as building materials for actuators, sensors, energy harvesters or all-in-one sophisticated soft robots, and consequently appropriate for a variety of existing and emerging applications. However, their mechanical properties like viscoelasticity and hyperelasticity (with strain that can attain 300 to 700%), as well hysteresis, creep and relaxation strongly effect other coupled material properties, among which the dielectric permittivity, energy losses and reaction time.

Due to large variety of SAPs it is hard to experimentally test them all, not only because the experiments are costly and time consuming, but also because a relatively insignificant chemical changes (doping with nano-particles for instance) may substantially change other properties, including mechanical. In this case, a proper mathematical model of SAP behaviour would be highly useful, but there are certain issues related to the mechanical and other coupled models of such materials. Commercial FE software packages, with adapted the hyperelastic models, are highly constrained in implementing the viscoelastic effects, electromechanical coupling, or more complex interactions, like impacts.

Furthermore, these materials have a number of failure modes including, electromechanical instability, dielectric breakdown, fracture and fatigue, mostly observed experimentally and poorly described by the existing empirical models, adapted from other materials, like rubber. All these factors constrain the dynamic modelling of Soft Active Polymers, which is required for predicting the performance of the sensors, actuators, energy harvesters or robots in their natural environment. Additionally, the need of flexible structures also requires re-thinking the way the polymers are developed, manufactured (e.g., 3D printing) and implemented, all of which influence the mechanical properties of SAPs.

The general challenge and purpose of the symposium is to gather people with different backgrounds and interests within the general field of soft materials. The symposium also encourages the participation of Early Stage Researchers and will serve as an excellent opportunity for them to present their work, engage with world leading experts in the area and get new collaborations. Experiment, theory, and practice/applications are the main constituents and purposes of the symposium.

The colloquium topics:

This EUROMECH “Mechanics of soft active polymers” Colloquium therefore welcomes the scientists at any career stage and industry researchers to contribute to the three sessions:

S1: Theory

This topic invites paper addressing theoretical challenges in the analysis of SAPs. It comprises developments of multiphysics theories including chemo-, thermo-, bio-, electro-, visco- elastic couplings. Such theories should be aiming at minimalistic formulations (Occam’s razor) yet allowing for a description of complex physical phenomena. This scientific arena strongly invites new developments.

S2: Experimental and numerical approaches

The papers invited for this section will address experimental treatment of soft materials. The latter is difficult task because it requires subtle laboratory equipment for a soft touch. In addition, interpretation of the experimental results is hard because it requires nontrivial analytical/computational support, e.g. cavitation, bulge test etc. Development of new and ingenious experimental protocols is the main experimental challenge.

S3: Applications, including sensors, actuators, robotics and energy harvesters

This section invites authors who develop existing and emerging applications. New applications of soft materials are in the very heart of any theoretical and experimental developments. Finding and engineering new applications are the most challenging motivation and final purpose of the whole area of soft materials. It is, arguably, more difficult than creating new theory or performing original experiment.

Important dates

Extended abstract submission (up to 2 pages) – Open for Abstract submission now

The colloquium format 

We plan to run face-to-face conference, which we all think is a wonderful way to conduct this event. However, in the case the COVID restriction are still imposed we will provide an opportunity to our None-EU colleagues to deliver their presentations online.

The colloquium disseminations

The colloquium will provide a book of abstracts in electronic format. New Springer journal Mechanics of Soft Materials will publish Special Issue on Mechanics of Soft Active Polymers. Preliminary submission of papers for the Special Issue is open now.

Conference organizing committee, venue and conference program

Local Organizing committee

Conference Secretary: Mr. Lucas Mochado, Heriot-Watt University,

Dr. Daniil Yurchenko, University of Southampton,

Dr. Henrik Sykora, Heriot-Watt University,

Dr. Morteza Amjadi, Heriot-Watt University,

Dr. Mokarram Hossain, Swansea University,

Prof. D. Val, Heriot-Watt University,

Prof. Yibin Fu, Keele Univerity,

The venue:

The conference will take place at University of Southampton, Southampton, UK. University of Southampton is a Russell group research- intensive university ranked among the top 100 universities in the world, with over 23000 students and campus in Malaysia. Southampton is the largest city in the county of Hampshire, which resides in southern England. It is a city of medieval origin, located on the estuary of the River Itchen. Thanks to its favourable position it has always been a main centre of trade and its port is one of the most important in the country. The city is the region’s leisure and cultural capital. With major international events, many new hotels, pubs, clubs, restaurants and close proximity to the New Forest National Park, Southampton is the South’s leading leisure destination.

Conference dinner: Chilworth Manor

Nearby hotels:

Elizabeth House Hotel, 43-44 The Avenue, Southampton, SO17 1XP

Highfield House Hotel, 119 Highfield Lane, Portswood, Southampton, SO17 1AQ

Chilworth Manor Hotel and Conference Centre, Chilworth, Southampton, SO16 7PT
10-minute taxi journey from the University of Southampton.

Hilton Southampton, Bracken Place, Chilworth, Southampton, SO16 3RB
10-minute taxi journey from the University of Southampton.

Jurys Inn, 1 Charlotte Place, Southampton, SO14 0TB
Hotel Jurys Inn Southampton, Southampton, United Kingdom - Lowest Rate Guaranteed!

Conference Program: To be announced

Registration, conference fee, abstract submission

Registration is open via the online store.

When you register and submit your extended abstract, please include the following information:

Surname (all co-authors)

First name: (all co-authors)

Affiliation: (all co-authors):

Email: (corresponding authors)

Paper title: XXX

Conference fees

 Before May, 15th (excl.)After May, 15th (incl.)
Student £210 £260
EUROMECH member £210 £260
Non-EUROMECH member £250 £300
Online participant £100 £125
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