Doctoral dissertation
Owies Wani

Dissertation: Bioinspired design enables polymers to undergo complex shape changes

Bioinspired design enables a standalone piece of polymer to perform complex functions like autonomous object recognition and self-regulating actuation. In his doctoral thesis, Owies Wani uses liquid crystals to make thin polymer films that deform into pre-programmed shapes upon light illumination and show complex adaptive behaviour.

“Materials that can be fuelled remotely with light and possess the capability of undergoing pre-programmed actuation can be potentially important towards development of untethered soft robots,’’ says Owies Wani

Seeking inspiration from natural actuators, notably, a plant called ‘Venus Flytrap’, and iris found in mammalian eyes, this thesis work aims to design polymer actuators that can autonomously adapt to the changes in their environment by deforming in response to various stimuli such as light, temperature or humidity.

‘’We choose light as a stimulus for actuation as it can be applied remotely and offers a great deal of spatial and temporal control over actuation,’’ Owies Wani notes.

Owies envisages that learning from the design principles of natural materials can help in development of advanced functional materials that would be able to take simple autonomous decisions, without the need of control circuitry or external powering unit.

The doctoral dissertation of MSc Owies Wani in the field of Material Chemistry, titled Bioinspired Light Robots from Liquid Crystal Networks, will be publicly examined in the Faculty of Engineering and Natural Sciences at Tampere University in the Auditorium FA032 of the Festia building, Korkeakoulunkatu 8, Tampere, on 17.05.2019, at 12 noon. The Opponent will be Professor Timothy J. White, University of Colorado Boulder. The Custos will be Professor Arri Priimägi.

The dissertation is available online at the

Photo: Markus Lahikainen