Department of Mechanical Engineering

Smart Materials and Microtechnologies

Our research focuses on deploying materials such as piezoceramic, ZnO, and conducting polymers, into micro-actuators and sensors for different novel applications.


Current projects in this area include:

Energy harvesting

The aim of this research is to achieve a small energy harvesting device with high harvesting capability that is able to convert vibration energy into electrical energy. This energy harvester allows for various applications, such as powering remote, portable or implanted medical devices without a need for batteries. Harvesting energy from human or animal motion to power wearable electronics is also of particular interest.


Wearable sensors and actuators

The developing fields of wearable electronics and soft robotics have created a strong demand for flexible and stretchable strain sensors. We have been researching on highly stretchable sensor aimed at applications as smart glove, medical sensors, etc. We are currently developing soft-actuators suitable as wearable pumps for drugs dispensing and also as implantable devices.


Micro-3D printing

Advances in nanomaterials and polymer electronics have made possible to realize new generation sensors and actuator designs. However, current technology still requires these sensors and actuators to be manufactured separately and attached afterwards onto mechanical structures to complete the overall device. At the same time, the increasing popularity of 3D printing has changed the way prototypes and custom objects are designed and manufactured. We have developed a fabrication platform that will allow design and production of complex custom devices, with integrated sensors and actuators, 3D-printed together in one process. Sensors and actuators will be based on conductive composite materials comprising conducting materials, including electroactive polymers. Such 3D printing technology, utilising printable functional materials, is a novel approach to co-manufacturing of mechanical structures and active components.




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Undergraduate and postgraduate courses available at the University of Auckland and relevant to the field of micro-systems and smart materials include:

  • MECHENG 705 - Mechatronics Systems (available to Part IV students)
  • MECHENG 728 - Advanced MEMs and Microsystems
  • MECHENG 735 - MEMs and Microsystems

Find out more about studying towards a Bachelor of Engineering (Honours) or a Master of Engineering Studies.


Microfabrication lab

In addition a microfabrication lab has been established within the University of Auckland's Department of Mechanical Engineering. Located in Room 201E-406B, it is used to support research in smart materials and microtechnologies.