Gold Mesh
Joule Heating
MA Spectrogram

Human-Centered Materials Intelligence

The Ni group pursues the pathways to enable real-time human-materials interaction by creating advanced digital-physical interfaces that connect humans with materials. To interface with humans, the key challenge is to monitor human signals comfortably and accurately. We develop epidermal electronics to capture multitudes of mechanical and acoustic processes of human body, ranging from broad classes of physiological information to precision kinematics of the body. To interface with materials, we combine micro/nanomechanics and flexible electronics for digital access to the structure, process, and properties. The area of research at the intersection of complex microstructures, active metamaterials, and non-destructive testing offers new capabilities for developing programmable matter with intelligent structures. The two platform technologies will support a rich range of applications in smart materials design, autonomous medical devices, predictive analytics, and connected care, paving the way for future digital, pervasive healthcare systems in general.

Our research will combine advanced fabrication, characterization, and computation techniques to study the associated fundamental and applied problems, including:

  • Flexible electronics for conformal mechano-acoustic sensing
  • Signal processing and machine learning techniques for precision measurement of body mechanics
  • Deformation mechanics and physics of random media
  • Programmable mechanical metamaterials, smart and active structures
  • Soft robotics, flexible sensors and actuators, control/optimization
  • Non-destructive mechanical characterization methods


We are currently looking for highly motivated students (Fall 2023) and postdocs to join our team at Duke University. We welcome researchers from all backgrounds but will give prior consideration to candidates with an experimental background in materials science, mechanics, electrical engineering, physics, etc. Candidates with in-depth experience in microfabrication or wireless devices are highly desired.

If interested, please contact us with your CV to discuss potential opportunities.