Soft Systems Group

Our research focuses on unconventional, manufacturable, and bioinspired approaches to engineering. Examples of these approaches include our current, and previous, research on:

  • Bioinspired Soft Robotics and Integrated Soft Systems
  • Droplet Microfluidics
  • Synthetic Biology
  • Metamaterials

Bioinspired Soft Robotics and Integrated Soft Systems

The current robotics projects in which we are involved are:

Droplet Microfluidics

DMF is a technique that exploits the interaction of electrodynamic fields with polar liquids. Fluid droplets, moving on the planar surface of a microfluidic chip, can be transported, split, joined, and dispensed. In collaboration with his colleagues at the DTC in Cell and Proteomic Technologies, Dr Stokes developed manufacturable fabrication techniques for producing digital microfluidic chips. These chips are used for sample preparation of biological fluids prior to analysis by, for example, mass spectrometry.

Synthetic Biology

Dr Stokes is a Member and PI in SynthSys: a Centre for Synthetic and Systems Biology. SynthSys represents an interdisciplinary research environment with members across many Research Institutes, Colleges and Schools, including The University of Edinburgh, Heriot-Watt University and BioSS. Our research in synthetic and systems biology is wide ranging and broadly fits within three main themes: mammalian systems; plants; and industrial biotechnology.


Metamaterials are a new class of synthetic material that have properties--usually optical--that are not found in nature. This field of research promises to have a transformative effect in fields such as optical computing, telecommunications, and energy harvesting. We are beginning to explore this exciting new field using novel, and unconventional fabrication methods.

Soft Robotics
Soft Systems close up of processor
Electronics Wafer close up photography

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