Welcome to the BioConTact Project!
Biodegradable electrical Conductors for Tactile (BioConTact) sensors are required to improve the sustainability of the robotic sector and mimic the functionality of human skin.
Indeed, robots, vital for a thriving European economy, are becoming omnipresent. Hence, the transition to sustainable and biodegradable alternatives to current electronics, which constitute robots, will boost the progress of environmentally friendly technologies in robotics. This transition will also influence consumer electronics, which are pervasive in European society, with more than 230 million users, and electronic wastes accumulating globally, reaching a production rate of 120 million metric tons per year by 2050..
The advancement of the BioConTact project will start engineering electrical conductors with controllable biodegradability that are flexible, lightweight, scalable, and produced with readily available materials. The tunable degradation will be controlled through the material formulation. This tunability will enable applications where long-term stability is crucial, such as human-mimicking robotic skin, and find applications for those requiring environmental control of degradation, such as bioresorbable transient electronics. These conductors will be assembled as human mimicking robotic skin for the iCub, the open-source robot of the Italian Institute of Technology.
Pietro studied Solid State Physics at the Università di Genova in 2013, performing the thesis in the Electron dynamiX group of the Fritz-Haber-Institut in Berlin. He did his Ph.D. in 2014 in the Smart Materials group of the Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia (IIT). In September 2018, the researcher worked at the University of Manchester National Graphene Institute with Prof. Ian Kinloch and Dr. Mark Bissett within the EU Graphene Flagship. In November 2020, he moved to Milano in the Printed and Molecular Electronics group of IIT, being part of the ELFO ERC project. He won a Marie Curie Individual Fellowship under Horizon 2020 EU research and innovation program and now works at the IIT-smart materials lab in Genova. He authored around 30 papers, more than half as the first or last author. He has two active patents and two patents applications.
Athanassia has a degree in Physics from the University of Ioannina in Greece (1996), an MSc in Laser Photonics from the University of Manchester (1997), and a Ph.D. in Physics, from Salford University in Manchester (2000). From 2000, she worked as Post-doc at the Foundation for Research and Technology in Crete, where she became Collaborating Researcher from 2003 until the 2005. In parallel from 2003 to 2005 she was Academic Staff at the Technical University of Crete. In January 2006, she joints as Researcher the National Nanotechnology Lab, CNR-Istituto di Nanoscienze, Lecce, Italy. In January 2011, she joints the Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia, IIT @ UniLe, Lecce, where she formed the Smart Materials group. The group moved to the central research laboratories of IIT in Genoa in September 2012. Athanassia published about 300 papers. She contributed to European grants (BlindPAD, GrapheneCore1, Graphene Core 2, COMPLETE, HARMONIC, BIOPROTO). She is the inventor of about 20 patents and has long-lasting collaborations with numerous companies and a joint lab with Novacart S.P.A. to develop cellulose-based materials.
Lorenzo received his degree in Electronic Engineering (with honours) and Ph.D. in Robotics from the University of Genoa. He was later postdoctoral researcher at the MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory. He was invited professor at the University of Genova where he taught the courses of Natural and Artificial Systems and Antropomorphic Robotics for students of the Bioengineering curriculum. Since 2020 he is visiting Professor at the University of Manchester. He is a Tenured Senior Researcher at the Italian Institute of Technology, where he leads the Humanoid Sensing and Perception group. Dr. Natale has published more than 150 papers. He coordinated the EU project CARVE, he has been PI and co-PI in numerous EU sponsored projects (HEAP, 5GTOURS, TACMAN, KOROIBOT, XPERIENCE, WALKMAN, CHRIS). He is ELLIS Fellow and core faculty of the ELLIS Genoa unit.