A UROP’s view of EECS: Gabriel Ha

Gabriel Ha worked directly under Padraig Cantillon-Murphy, and with the faculty supervision of EECS Professor Jeffrey H. Lang.

Gabriel Ha, in the electronics lab in EECS, Fall 2010

Gabriel Ha, in the electronics lab in EECS, Fall 2010

Q. Having been an EECS UROP this past year, can you describe the research and your role in it?

Gabriel Ha: “Magnetic self- deployment facilitates natural orifice bypass surgery is the title of the research paper to which my UROP work contributed. For some surgical applications, researchers have come up with the clever idea of using specially-constructed folding magnets to create artificial channels between two otherwise unlinked organs in the body. The structure of the magnet looks like four thin rectangular magnets attached in a square formation, meaning that there is a square of empty space in the middle. Sometimes during the test surgeries, they would discover that the magnets would come together at an odd angle, and this was problematic not only because it looked funny, but also because it reduced the window of operation (the space in the middle) for surgery.

When I came onto the project, I was asked to provide insight on why this might be happening, so I first developed a real-time simulation using MATLAB that, given the start position of two magnets, would iterate through the physics and show how the magnets would come together. However, when angles were introduced into the simulation (i.e. when the magnets were not aligned directly above each other), we realized that we had to deal with issues like torque, and gyroscopic effects, and otherwise issues of rigid body dynamics, which is rather complicated.

So the next thing I did was modify my code to generate a surface plot of the potential energy of the system with different positional parameters (for example, distance versus rotation, or distance versus translation on a given axis). We expected these graphs to have an absolute energy minimum at the perfect “mating” point where the two magnets come together perfectly aligned, but also one or more local energy minimums, which would point to the reason why the magnets would occasionally come together at awkward angles. This was indeed the case, and the generated graphs were used by my research team in the paper for proof-of-concept purposes. While my work may not necessarily have provided information on how to NOT make the magnets come together imperfectly, it provided the needed insight into the situation and also made the case for the viability of such surgery.”

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