Drs. Steven Nagels and his PhD thesis Jan 05, 2017
Steven Nagels of the IMO-IMOMEC research group Functional Materials Engineering answers questions about his research and his dreams / aspirations / interests in the elevator.
How would you explain to a five-year old the research you're doing?
I do research into new materials and production techniques for stretchable electronics. In addition, electronic circuits are constructed so that they are flexible and even stretchable. What I want to achieve you can best compare with this: giving robots a skin with the same delicate touch sensation as human skin.
Why this research?
If you look at the traditional design of electronics, it is striking that it is cold and hard - literally and figuratively. Take robots, you probably think: chilly machines insensitive to subtle human interaction and without aesthetics. Not something that you would confide the taking care of our children to. With my research I want to come to soft shapes which are less intimidating in their interaction. More organic and integrated designs.
How far do you stand?
The past six months I spent most of my time on the OSCAR project. So I helped build the measurement system that the operation of the solar cell and checked during their balloon flight through the atmosphere. On this trip samples of my new material travelled with, so I could see how they reacted to extreme cold, low pressure and radiation. Within my PhD, the focus is now on material development for stretchable electronic circuits.
On what impact you hope?
I studied electronics because you can be very creative. With a handful of components it is possible to make anything, which I find fantastic. In my research I hope to contribute to this creative freedom. I want to provide tools so that everyone can get to work on stretchable electronics.
If you were not working at the IMO-IMOMEC UHasselt, where would you be working?
Disney Research team appeals to me very much in Zurich. Vertigo or Pixel Bots are examples of imaginative research projects that I would like to work on. In any case, I would make things: if I can’t puzzle things together, I'm unhappy. But my PhD gives me the opportunity to do so. In abundance.
What did you want to be as a child?
I always wanted to make things. At the start I made robots, with tape and large cardboard boxes. Later my father gave me little things to turn apart. At the youth movement Chiro, I could indulge my creativity in the design of posters for our parties. And at university I learned about electronics, with which I could experiment at home. Why I did this and still do? I love to surprise the people around me.
Where do you still dream off?
Currently I know which techniques and materials I will combine to build devices from stretchy parts. But I want to make something where there is a need for, a specific application, something that you can really use in the near future. Therefore, I would like to conduct research according to a major player in the industry. Adidas, for instance.
What is the best / most beautiful thing you ever read / seen / heard / have visited?
The most memorable performance ever was the one from Linkin Park, at Pukkelpop 2015. The only band of whom I have more than four CDs, the first music on my first MP3 player. I've long since forgotten why I found them so great. But when they come on the radio, I immediately in my element. And I cannot leave it to roar along. Delicious!