Professor, Mechanical Engineering
Courtesy Appointments, Biomedical Engineering, Electrical & Computer Engineering, Robotics Institute
5000 Forbes Avenue
Scaife Hall 320
Pittsburgh, PA 15213
Prof. Sitti’s academic discipline is robotics, with emphasis on micro- and nano-scale robotics. His research program combines applied micro/nano-robotic systems with micro/nanoscale mechanics modeling and analysis. In his NanoRobotics Laboratory, the functional goal is to develop new methods to design, manufacture, and control innovative and high impact micro/nano-robotic systems in three thrust areas: miniature mobile robots, bio-inspired micro/nano-fiber adhesives, and tip based micro/nano-manipulation systems. His team had below significant impacts in these three areas.
Impact Area 1: Miniaturization of Mobile Robots: Dr. Sitti’s approach to realize miniature mobile robots with variety of locomotion capabilities involves developing a bio-inspired design methodology. Adapting the ‘just good-enough’, robust, efficient, and sub-optimal solutions of nature to miniature robots, we introduced new miniature robots with water surface, climbing, flying, and swimming locomotion capabilities, being inspired by lizards, insects, and bacteria. As example bio-inspired locomotion principles at the small scale, we proposed two unique bio-inspired legged locomotion mechanisms on water surface, inspired by water striders and basilisk lizards. We are currently studying design and control challenges of flapping wings based flying robots inspired by hummingbirds and insects, and multi-locomotion systems such as jumping and gliding robots inspired by vampire bats and gliding squirrels.
To miniaturize mobile robots down to micron scale sizes, the most critical bottleneck is the lack of on-board micron scale actuators and power sources. We have proposed two methods to solve this challenge. At first, we are using remote magnetic fields to actuate magnetic micro-robots inside enclosed spaces. We have been proposing new magnetic micro-robot locomotion principles based on rotational stick-slip, spinning and rolling dynamics are proposed. Vision-based control schemes are used to control 2-D and 3-D motion of teams of micro-robots using novel addressing methods. Such untethered micro-robot teams are being used to control microfluidic flow locally and manipulate micro-gels and cells with or without contact inside microfluidic chips, and would be used in minimally invasive medical interventions in unprecedented areas of human body. This project received the Best Paper Award in IROS’09 and won the first prize in World Robocup Micro-Robotics competition in 2012. As the second approach, we have been using biological cells, e.g. bacteria, attached to the surface of a swimming micro-robot as on-board micro-actuators using the chemical energy inside the cell body or in the environment. Steering control, swarm behavior, and potential targeted drug delivery applications of these bio-hybrid micro-robotic systems are our current focus topics. This research is funded by NSF Cyberphysical Systems program.
Impact Area 2: Bio-Inspired Micro/Nano-Fibrillar Adhesives: Advanced new materials are crucial for building new miniature robots with improved and robust performance. Exploring bio-inspired repeatable adhesives as power efficient, robust and compact gripping materials for new miniature climbing robots, our team at UC Berkeley showed evidences for the van der Waals forces dominated dry adhesion principle of gecko foot-hairs in PNAS in 2002 (514 journal paper citations), which initiated a new bio-inspired fibrillar adhesives research field. At Carnegie Mellon, we have focused on design, analysis, fabrication, and applications of elastomer micro-fibrillar adhesives inspired by these biological foot-hairs. For the first time, my team had below achievements: (1) Created two new processes to fabricate vertical and angled polymer micro/nano-fibers with and without spatulated tip endings. These methods are scalable up, high yield, and cost-effective, and resulted in 3 issued and 4 pending patents; (2) Demonstrated enhanced adhesion and shear of mushroom shaped micro-fibers as good as geckos on smooth surfaces; (3) Showed the significance of the backing layer thickness of single-level elastomer fiber arrays; (4) Demonstrated controlled adhesion and directional friction of angled fiber stems with angled spatulated tips as good as biological foot-hairs; (5) Manufactured hierarchical elastomer fiber adhesives with enhanced adhesion on single-asperity rough surfaces; (6) Demonstrated the mechanics of contact self-cleaning of elastomer micro-fiber adhesives; (7) Applied the fabricated new fibrillar adhesives to miniature robots: (a) non-invasive anchoring of capsule robots inside the gastrointestinal tract for therapeutic applications, which was nominated for the World Technology Award in 2009; (b) palm-size climbing robots called Waalbots, which was funded by NASA and Boeing and enabled us to receive the Best Biomimetics Paper Award in RoBio’04. Finally, Dr. Sitti founded nanoGriptech Inc. to commercialize these fibrillar adhesives for sports, medical, defense, product design, and robotics applications. This company employs 4 engineers including a former PhD student from our team.
Impact Area 3: Tip-Based Precision Micro/Nano-Manipulation Systems: Since Dr. Sitti’s PhD research in Japan, we have proposed new tip-based micro/nano-manipulation methods and systems. We developed micro/nano-mechanics models and teleoperated and automated control methods for atomic force microscope based contact manipulation systems in 2-D, which enabled me to receive the Best Paper Award in IROS’98. We proposed a fiber drawing method using glass micropipettes to deposit suspended polymer fibers down to 17 nm diameters on surfaces. We drew multi-layer fiber networks to create new aligned tissue scaffolds, which enabled basic tissue cell growth studies with controlled geometric boundary conditions. Finally, in a DARPA project, we worked on a tip based nano-patterning method with a few nanometers precision to manufacture nano-sensors in a flexible manner. Dr. Sitti received the SPIE Nanoengineering Pioneer Award in 2011 due to his contributions on the nanomanipulation field.
Above research achievements were conducted by Dr. Sitti’s team, which has involved 30 PhD (17 graduated), 37 MSc (35 graduated), 54 undergraduate student members, and around 30 international research visitors from Europe and Asia. Former graduate students have continued in academia, including assistant professors at UIUC, Virginia Tech, WPI, and Texas Tech and as postdoctoral fellows at MIT and Harvard, and in industry, including companies such as BostonDynamics, Apple, Intel, and Arete Associates. Dr. Sitti’s projects have been funded by NSF, NIH, NASA, PITA, DoD, and industry with total research funding of ~$6.3M as PI and ~$7.1M as Co-PI. We have published 104 journal articles and peer-reviewed 117 conference papers with total around 5,800 journal paper citations (h-index of 41). He has presented our research findings in more than 100 invited presentations in universities and conferences nationally and internationally.
As for educational activities, Professor Sitti developed two interdisciplinary new courses. Bio-Inspired Robotics course explores the physical principles and mechanisms of animal locomotion systems and how to adapt them to robotic systems. Micro/Nano-Robotics course teaches design, analysis, manufacturing, and control methods for micro/nano-robotic systems. He received the Struminger award at Carnegie Mellon in 2005 due to these teaching initiatives.
Prof. Sitti received the PhD degree in electrical engineering from University of Tokyo, Japan, in 1999. He was a research scientist at University of California at Berkeley during 1999-2002. He is currently a professor in Department of Mechanical Engineering and Robotics Institute at Carnegie Mellon University. He is the director of NanoRobotics Lab and Center for Bio-Robotics. His research interests include magnetically- and cell-actuated mobile micro-robots, bio-inspired micro/nano-materials, bio-inspired miniature robot locomotion, medical miniature robots, and micro/nano-manipulation. He received the SPIE Nanoengineering Pioneer Award in 2011, National Science Foundation CAREER Award in 2005, and IBM Smarter Planet Award in 2012. He received the Best Paper Award in the IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems in 2009 and 1998, the first prize in the World RoboCup Micro-Robotics Competition in 2012, the Best Biomimetics Paper Award in the IEEE Robotics and Biomimetics Conference in 2004, and the Best Video Award in the IEEE Robotics and Automation Conference in 2002. He was appointed as the Adamson Career Faculty Fellow during 2007-2010. He was the Vice President of the Technical Activities in the IEEE Nanotechnology Council during 2008-2010. He was elected as the Distinguished Lecturer of the IEEE Robotics and Automation Society during 2006-2008. He is the editor-in-chief of Journal of Micro-Bio Robotics.
B.Sc. 1992, M.Sc. 1994, Bogazici University, Turkey
Ph.D. 1999, University of Tokyo
Research Scientist & Lecturer 1999-2002, University of California at Berkeley
Selected Recent Publications (out of total 104 journal paper publications):
- U. Abusomwan and M. Sitti, “Effect of Retraction Speed on Adhesion of Elastomer Fibrillar Structures,” Applied Physics Letters, in press.
- D. Campolo, M. Azhar, G.-K. Lau, and M. Sitti, “Can DC motors directly drive flapping wings at high frequency and large wing strokes?,” IEEE/ASME Trans. on Mechatronics, in press.
- D. Kim, A. Liu, E. Diller, and M. Sitti, “Chemotactic Steering of Bacteria Propelled Microbeads,” Biomedical Microdevices, DOI: 10.1007/s10544-012-9701-4.
- V. Arabagi, L. Hines, and M. Sitti, “A Simulation and Design Tool for a Passive Rotation Flapping Wing Mechanism,” IEEE/ASME Trans. on Mechatronics, DOI: 10.1109/TMECH.2012. 2185707.
- S. Yim and M. Sitti, “Shape-programmable Soft Capsule Robots for Semi-implantable Drug Delivery,” IEEE Trans. on Robotics, DOI: 10.1109/TRO.2012.2197309, 2012.
- T. Seo and M. Sitti, “Tank-Like Module-Based Climbing Robot Using Passive Compliant Joints,” IEEE/ASME Trans. on Mechatronics, vol. 18, no. 1, pp. 397-408, Feb. 2013.
- Z. Ye, E. Diller and M. Sitti, “Locally-Induced Rotational Fluid Flows Using Magnetic Micro-Manipulators for Non-Contact Micro-Object Manipulation,” Journal of Applied Physics, vol. 112, p. 064912, 2012.
- L. Hines, V. Arabagi, and M. Sitti, “Shape Memory Polymer based Flexure Stiffness Control in a Miniature Compliant Mechanism,” IEEE Trans. on Robotics, vol. 28, no. 4, pp. 987-990, Aug. 2012.
- V. Arabagi, L. Hines, and M. Sitti, “Design and Manufacturing of a Controllable Miniature Flapping Wing Robotic Platform,” International Journal of Robotics Research, vol. 31, no. 6, pp. 785-800, 1 May 2012.
- S. Y. Yang, A. Carlson, H. Cheng, Q. Yu, N. Ahmed, J. Wu, S. Kim, M. Sitti, P. M. Ferreira, Y. Huang, and J. A. Rogers, “Elastomer surfaces with directionally dependent adhesion strength and their use in transfer printing with continuous roll-to-roll applications,” Advanced Materials, vol. 24, no. 16, pp. 2117-2122, 24 April 2012.
- E. Diller, S. Miyashita, and M. Sitti, “Remotely Addressable Magnetic Composite Micro-pumps,” RSC Advances, vol. 2, no. 9, pp. 3850 – 3856, April 2012.
- C. Pawashe, S. Floyd, E. Diller, and M. Sitti, “Two-Dimensional Autonomous Micro-Particle Manipulation Strategies for Magnetic Micro-Robots in Fluidic Environments,” IEEE Trans. on Robotics, vol. 28, no. 2, pp. 467-477, April 2012.
- Y. Menguc, S. Y. Yang, S. Kim, J. A. Rogers, and M. Sitti, “Gecko Inspired Controllable Adhesive Structures Applied to Micromanipulation,” Advanced Functional Materials, vol. 22, no. 6, pp. 1246–1254, March 21, 2012.
- S. Yim and M. Sitti, “Design and Rolling Locomotion of a Magnetically Actuated Soft Capsule Endoscope,” IEEE Trans. on Robotics, vol. 28, no. 1, pp. 183-194, Feb. 2012.
- E. Diller, S. Floyd, C. Pawashe, and M. Sitti, “Control of Multiple Heterogeneous Magnetic Micro-Robots in Two Dimensions,” IEEE Trans. on Robotics, vol. 28, no. 1, pp. 172-182, Feb. 2012.
- E. Diller, C. Pawashe, S. Floyd, and M. Sitti, “Assembly and Disassembly of Magnetic Mobile Micro-Robots towards Deterministic 2-D Reconfigurable Micro-Systems,” International Journal of Robotics Research, vol. 30, no. 14, pp. 1667–1680, Dec. 2011.
- S. Floyd, E. Diller, C. Pawashe, and M. Sitti, “Control Methodologies for a Heterogeneous Group of Untethered Magnetic Micro-Robots,” International Journal of Robotics Research, vol. 30, no. 13, pp. 1553-1565, Nov. 2011.
- B. Aksak, C. Y. Hui, and M. Sitti, “Effect of Aspect Ratio on Adhesion for Soft Elastic Fibers,” Journal of the Royal Society Interface, vol. 8, no. 61, pp. 1166-1175, 7 Aug. 2011.
- V. Arabagi, B. Behkam, E. Cheung, and M. Sitti, “Modeling of Stochastic Motion of Bacteria Propelled Spherical Microbeads,” Journal of Applied Physics, vol. 109, p. 114702, June 2011.
- C. Onal, O. Ozcan, and M. Sitti, “Automated 2-D Nanoparticle Manipulation using Atomic Force Microscopy,” IEEE Trans. on Nanotechnology, vol. 10, no. 3, pp. 472-481, May 2011.
- H. Chung, P. Glass, J. M. Pothen, M. Sitti, and N. R. Washburn, “Enhanced Adhesion of Dopamine Methacrylamide Elastomers via Viscoelasticity Tuning,” Biomacromolecules, vol. 12, no. 2, pp. 342-347, Feb. 2011.
- M. P. Murphy, C. Kute, Y. Menguc, and M. Sitti, “Waalbot II: Adhesion recovery and improved performance of a climbing robot using fibrillar adhesives,” International Journal of Robotics Research, vol. 30, no. 1, pp. 118-133, Jan. 2011.
- S. Kim, J. Wub, A. Carlson, S. H. Jin, A. Kovalsky, P. Glass, N. Ahmed, S. L. Elgan, P. M. Ferreira, M. Sitti, Y. Huang, and J. A. Rogers, “Microstructured Elastomeric Surfaces with Reversible Adhesion for Applications in Assembly by Transfer Printing,” Proceedings of National Academy of Sciences USA, vol. 107, no. 40, pp. 17095-17100, October 5, 2010.
- O. Unver and M. Sitti, “Tankbot: A Palm-size, Tank-like Climbing Robot using Soft Elastomer Adhesive Treads,” International Journal of Robotics Research, vol. 29, no. 14, pp. 1761–1777, Dec. 2010.
- P. Glass, H. Chung, N. R. Washburn, and M. Sitti, “Enhanced Wet Adhesion of Elastomeric Micro-Fiber Arrays with Mushroom Tip Geometry and a Photopolymerized p(DMA-co-MEA) Tip Coating,” Langmuir, vol. 26, no. 22, pp. 17357–17362, Nov. 16, 2010.
- O. Unver and M. Sitti, “Flat Dry Elastomer Adhesives as Attachment Materials for Climbing Robots,” IEEE Trans. on Robotics, vol. 26, no. 1, pp. 131-141, Feb. 2010.
- C. Onal and M. Sitti, “Teleoperated 3D Force Feedback from the Nanoscale with an Atomic Force Microscope,” IEEE Trans. on Nanotechnology, pp. 46-54, vol. 9, no. 1, Jan. 2010.
- H. S. Park, S. Floyd, and M. Sitti, “Roll and Pitch Motion Analysis of a Biologically Inspired Water Runner Robot,” International Journal of Robotics Research, vol. 29, no. 10, pp. 1281-1297, Sept. 2010.
- C. Pawashe, S. Floyd, and M. Sitti, “Two-Dimensional Contact and Non-Contact Manipulation of Particles using Magnetic Micro-Robots,” IEEE Trans. on Robotics, vol. 25, no. 6, pp. 1332-1342, Dec. 2009.
- M. Sitti, B. Cusick, B. Aksak, A. Nese, H. Lee, H. Dong, T. Kowalewski, & K. Matyjaszewski, “Dangling Chain Elastomers as Repeatable Fibrillar Adhesives,” ACS Applied Materials and Interfaces, vol. 1, no. 10, pp. 2277-2287, Oct. 2009.
- C. Pawashe, S. Floyd, and M. Sitti, “Modeling and Experimental Characterization of an Untethered Magnetic Micro-Robot,” International Journal of Robotics Research, vol. 28, no. 8, pp. 1077-1094, August 2009.
- C. Pawashe, S. Floyd, and M. Sitti, “Multiple Magnetic Microrobot Control using Electrostatic Clamping,” Applied Physics Letters, vol. 94, p. 161408, 2009.
- S. Kim, M. Sitti, T. Xie, and X. Xiao, “Reversible Dry Adhesives with Thermally Controllable Adhesion,” Soft Matter, vol. 5, no. 19, pp. 3689-3693, 7 July 2009.
- S. Kim, E. Cheung, and M. Sitti, “Wet Self-Cleaning of Biologically Inspired Elastomer Mushroom Shaped Microfibrillar Adhesives,” Langmuir, vol. 25, no. 13, pp. 7196-7199, June 2009.
- P. Glass, H. Yong, N. R. Washburn, and M. Sitti, “Enhanced Reversible Adhesion of Dopamine Methacrylamide Coated Elastomer Micro-Fibrillar Structures in Wet Conditions,” Langmuir, vol. 25, no. 12, pp. 6607-6612, 20 May 2009.
- E. Cheung and M. Sitti, “Adhesion of Biologically Inspired Polymer Microfibers on Soft Surfaces,” Langmuir, vol. 25, no. 12, pp. 6613-6616, 20 May 2009.
- M. Sitti, “Miniature Devices: Voyage of the microrobots,” Nature, vol. 458, pp. 1121-1122, 30 April 2009.
- M. Murphy, S. Kim, and M. Sitti, “Enhanced Adhesion by Gecko-Inspired Hierarchical Fibrillar Adhesives,” ACS Applied Materials and Interfaces, vol. 1, no. 4, pp. 849-855, April 2009. (Appeared in the journal cover page)
- M. Murphy, B. Aksak, and M. Sitti, “Gecko Inspired Directional and Controllable Adhesion,” Small, vol. 5, no. 2, pp. 170-175, 19 Jan. 2009.
- C. Onal and M. Sitti, “Scaled Bilateral Control for Experimental One-Dimensional Teleoperated Nanomanipulation,” International Journal of Robotics Research, vol. 28, no. 4, pp. 484-497, 2009.
Selected Awards, Prizes, Honors2012: Finalist for the Best Innovator of the Year Award due to the research activities and commercialization efforts on gecko-inspired fibrillar adhesives, given by the Pittsburgh Technology Council
2012: IBM Smarter Planet Award due to the research activities on magnetically actuated soft magnetic capsule endoscopes for diagnostic and therapeutic applications inside stomach
2012: First Prize in the World RoboCup Micro-Robotics competition during the ICRA’12 conference, Saint Paul, MN
2011: Finalist for the JTCF Novel Technology Paper Award in the IEEE/RSJ Intelligent Robots and Systems Conference (IROS’11), San Francisco, for the research paper entitled, “Design of a Miniature Integrated Multi-Modal Jumping and Gliding Robot”
2011: SPIE Nanoengineering Pioneer Award due to the pioneering works on nanorobotic manipulation systems
2010: Second Prize in the World RoboCup Micro-Robotics competition during the ICRA’10 conference, Alaska
2009: Best Paper Award in the IEEE/RSJ Intelligent Robots and Systems Conference (IROS’09) for the research paper entitled, “Microparticle Manipulation using Multiple Untethered Magnetic Micro-Robots on an Electrostatic Surface”
2009: Nominated for the World Technology Award, Health and Medicine category, due to his work involving a tiny capsule robot that is adhesive enough to anchor inside an intestine and yet gentle enough not to tear soft tissue
2008: Best Paper Finalist in the ASME International Design Engineering Technical Conferences & Computers and Information in Engineering (IDETC’08) Conference, New York, for the research paper titled, “Fabrication and characterization of biologically inspired mushroom-shaped elastomer microfiber arrays”
2008: Two Papers selected among Core 15 Papers for Thomson Scientific's Fast Moving Front Map of Materials Science: S. Kim and M. Sitti, Appl. Phys. Lett. (2006) and K. Autumn, M. Sitti, et al., PNAS (2002)
2008: Innovation Works Award from Carnegie Mellon towards commercializing gecko foot-hair inspired adhesives
2008: Best Paper Award Finalist in the IEEE Robotics and Biomimetics Conference for the research paper entitled, “A Novel Artificial Hair Receptor Based on Aligned PVDF Micro/Nano Fibers”
2007-2009: Adamson Career Faculty Fellow at Carnegie Mellon due to contributions to micro/nano-robotics research activities
2007: Second Prize in the World RoboCup Micro-Robotics competition, Atlanta
2007: Best and Brightest of Esquire Magazine given to people whose work is not only innovative and inspirational, but who have the potential to change the way we live
2007: Most huggable professor in Mechanical Engineering, selected by all seniors
2006: Distinguished Lecturer, IEEE Robotics and Automation Society, 2006-2008
2006: Most friendly professor, selected by all graduate students in Mechanical Engineering
2005: National Science Foundation CAREER Award for the research and teaching activities about nanorobotic manipulation systems using Atomic Force Microscope probes
2005: Invited speaker to the National Academy of Sciences, Keck Foundation Life Engineering Symposium for giving a talk on biologically inspired miniature robots, San Francisco, CA, 18 August 2005
2005: Struminger Faculty Award for the teaching activities related to micro/nano-robotics at Carnegie Mellon
2004: Best Paper Finalist in the IEEE Nanotechnology Conference (IEEE NANO’04), Munich, Germany for the research paper entitled, “Nanomanipulation with 3D Visual and Force Feedback using Atomic Force Microscopes”
2004: Best Biomimetics Paper Award in the IEEE Robotics and Biomimetics Conference (RoBio’04) for the research paper entitled, “Gecko Inspired Climbing Robots”
2004: Best Manipulation Paper Finalist in the IEEE Robotics and Automation Conference (ICRA’04) for the research paper entitled, “Three-Dimensional Nanoscale Manipulation and Manufacturing using Proximal Probes: Controlled Pulling of Polymer Micro/Nanofibers”
2002: Best Video Award in the IEEE Robotics and Automation Conference for the research video entitled, “The Micromechanical Flying Insect”
2001: Best Student Paper Finalist in the IEEE Robotics and Automation Conference (ICRA’01) for the research paper entitled, “Development of a Scaled Teleoperation System for Nano Scale Interaction and Manipulation”
2000: Best Paper Finalist in the IEEE Robotics and Automation Conference (ICRA’00) for the research paper entitled, “Wing Transmission for a Micromechanical Flying Insect”
1998: Best Paper Award in the IEEE/RSJ Intelligent Robot Systems Conference (IROS’98) for the research paper entitled, “Tele-Nanorobotics using Atomic Force Microscope”
1996-1999: Japanese Ministry of Education Monbusho Research Fellowship during all PhD education