Phase and Motion: At the Intersection of Nonlinear Dynamics, Mechatronics, and Learning Systems

Date: 2023/09/22 - 2023/09/22

Academic Seminar: Phase and Motion: At the Intersection of Nonlinear Dynamics, Mechatronics, and Learning Systems

Speaker: Nikhil Bajaj, Assistant Professor, Department of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science, University of Pittsburgh

Time: 10:00-11:30 a.m., September 22, 2023 (Beijing Time)

Location: CIMC Auditorium (Room 300), JI Long Bin Building


Society is increasingly looking to large-scale sensing and control systems to solve big problems. Success in solving these problems, whether in the security, smart buildings, or autonomous vehicles sector, is contingent upon transducer networks that are high performance, scalable, and resilient. Mechatronics, dynamics and control, and machine learning concepts are central to the operation of these systems across multiple levels of the Cyber-Physical Systems (CPS) hierarchy, from the micro- or nano- electromechanical systems (MEMS/NEMS) comprising the sensing elements, up to the networks themselves. This seminar will describe multiple advances in the design of dynamic systems that enable new functionality while considering the practical constraints associated with mass adoption. The first set of advances leverages nonlinear dynamics and high-speed analog feedback circuits in order to create a bifurcation-based MEMS trinitrotoluene (TNT) “smoke alarm” for security and public safety applications, with a focus on effects of phase delay in the feedback. The second set of advances is related to the study of oscillator circuits that will be integrated and coupled towards sensing and neuromorphic  circuits.

These examples motivate further study focused on the development of better implementation frameworks and design tools for the high-frequency control for MEMS, embedded machine learning, and multi-domain optimization in mechatronic systems. Finally, we will discuss important application opportunities, such resilient and smart sensors, as well as haptics development, that leverage the combination of these tools.


Nikhil Bajaj received the B.S., M.S., and Ph.D. degrees in Mechanical Engineering from Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN, in 2008, 2011, and 2017, respectively. He is currently an assistant professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science in the University of Pittsburgh’s Swanson School of Engineering, and has held research assistant positions on several projects in the areas of nonlinear dynamics, control systems, sensing and machine learning, computational design, and heat transfer. Dr. Bajaj has had a research position with Alcatel-Lucent Bell Laboratories, and has also served as a consulting mechatronics engineer with two startup technology companies, in the areas of force sensing in gaming devices and the control of multi-actuator haptics. His research interests include nonlinear dynamical and control systems, and the analysis and design of mechatronic systems, especially in the context of resilient, learning sensor systems for nuclear power applications, neuromorphic computing and decision making systems, and using dynamics in security. His current efforts are supported by the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the US Department of Energy-supported CyManII Research Institute, as well as corporate sponsors.