The next frontier in precision medicine and the Internet of things (IoT) requires the convergence of engineering and life sciences. Our human body is a dynamic system, with inherent molecular signaling, tissue growth, and organ motion across different time scales and physical dimensions. However, conventional electronics and robotics are usually made with rigid components and limited adaptability, which limits their versatility for safe and precise operation. My research addresses these challenges by adapting interdisciplinarity approaches to build an ecosystem consisting of biomimetic soft electronics and microrobots that can sense, grow, transform, or locomote within living systems for precise diagnosis and personalized treatment. In this talk, I will first present two innovative designs of soft neuro-electronic devices, using skin as inspiration, which can accommodate biomechanical motion to enable biomolecular sensing in actively moving organs or chronic neuromodulation in rapidly growing nerves. I will then introduce how embodied intelligence enabled by smart polymeric actuators allows us to build ubiquitous soft robots that mimic the natural muscles with high flexibility and adaptability. Finally, I will discuss the great potential of the emerging micro/nanorobotics for engineering, defense, and biomedicine, including the first microrobot-based disease treatment in living animals. By developing such soft electronics and miniaturized robotics with high adaptability, mobility, and intelligence across nano to macroscales, we will enable a new platform to perform high-bandwidth interactions and complex operations in body locations that are currently inaccessible, and open vast reservoirs for new discovery in basic science, precision medicine, and next-generation human-machine interactions.
Jinxing Li is currently a postdoctoral fellow at Stanford Engineering working with Prof. Zhenan Bao. With both B.S. and M.S. degrees in Electrical Engineering, he received his PhD in NanoEngineering from the University of California San Diego in 2017 with Prof. Joseph Wang and co-advised by Prof. Liangfang Zhang. His PhD research was focused on developing micro/nanorobotics for biomedical, defense, and engineering applications. He joined Stanford in 2017 after a summer visiting at Bell Labs working on digital health. Supported by a Stanford Bio-X Interdisciplinary Initiative Award, he is currently working on projects to develop medical electronics and soft robotics for wellness. He has received the ACS DIC Young Investigator Award, Dan David Prize Scholarship in Nanoscience, Siebel Scholar of Bioengineering, and Materials Research Society Graduate Student Award. He was recently selected by MIT Technology Review one of the Innovators Under 35 global list.