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  1. Healthy human locomotion functions with good gait symmetry depend on rhythmic coordination of the left and right legs, which can be deteriorated by neurological disorders like stroke and spinal cord injury. Powered exoskeletons are promising devices to improve impaired people's locomotion functions, like gait symmetry. However, given higher uncertainties and the time-varying nature of human-robot interaction, providing personalized robotic assistance from exoskeletons to achieve the best gait symmetry is challenging, especially for people with neurological disorders. In this paper, we propose a hierarchical control framework for a bilateral hip exoskeleton to provide the adaptive optimal hip joint assistance with a control objective of imposing the desired gait symmetry during walking. Three control levels are included in the hierarchical framework, including the high-level control to tune three control parameters based on a policy iteration reinforcement learning approach, the middle-level control to define the desired assistive torque profile based on a delayed output feedback control method, and the low-level control to achieve a good torque trajectory tracking performance. To evaluate the feasibility of the proposed control framework, five healthy young participants are recruited for treadmill walking experiments, where an artificial gait asymmetry is imitated as the hemiparesis post-stroke, and only the ‘paretic’ hip joint is controlled with the proposed framework. The pilot experimental studies demonstrate that the hierarchical control framework for the hip exoskeleton successfully (asymmetry index from 8.8% to − 0.5%) and efficiently (less than 4 minutes) achieved the desired gait symmetry by providing adaptive optimal assistance on the ‘paretic’ hip joint. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available October 1, 2024
  2. Abstract

    Magnetic toroidicity is an uncommon type of magnetic structure in solid-state materials. Here, we experimentally demonstrate that collinear spins in a material withR-3 lattice symmetry can host a significant magnetic toroidicity, even parallel to the ordered spins. Taking advantage of a single crystal sample of CoTe6O13with anR-3 space group and a Co2+triangular sublattice, temperature-dependent magnetic, thermodynamic, and neutron diffraction results reveal A-type antiferromagnetic order below 19.5 K, with magnetic point group -3′ andk = (0,0,0). Our symmetry analysis suggests that the missing mirror symmetry in the lattice could lead to the local spin canting for a toroidal moment along thecaxis. Experimentally, we observe a large off-diagonal magnetoelectric coefficient of 41.2 ps/m that evidences the magnetic toroidicity. In addition, the paramagnetic state exhibits a large effective moment per Co2+, indicating that the magnetic moment in CoTe6O13has a significant orbital contribution. CoTe6O13embodies an excellent opportunity for the study of next-generation functional magnetoelectric materials.

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  3. Free, publicly-accessible full text available June 1, 2024
  4. Free, publicly-accessible full text available May 1, 2024
  5. Abstract B-mode ultrasound (US) is often used to noninvasively measure skeletal muscle architecture, which contains human intent information. Extracted features from B-mode images can help improve closed-loop human–robotic interaction control when using rehabilitation/assistive devices. The traditional manual approach to inferring the muscle structural features from US images is laborious, time-consuming, and subjective among different investigators. This paper proposes a clustering-based detection method that can mimic a well-trained human expert in identifying fascicle and aponeurosis and, therefore, compute the pennation angle. The clustering-based architecture assumes that muscle fibers have tubular characteristics. It is robust for low-frequency image streams. We compared the proposed algorithm to two mature benchmark techniques: UltraTrack and ImageJ. The performance of the proposed approach showed higher accuracy in our dataset (frame frequency is 20 Hz), that is, similar to the human expert. The proposed method shows promising potential in automatic muscle fascicle orientation detection to facilitate implementations in biomechanics modeling, rehabilitation robot control design, and neuromuscular disease diagnosis with low-frequency data stream. 
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  6. Abstract Water resources sustainability in High Mountain Asia (HMA) surrounding the Tibetan Plateau (TP)—known as Asia’s water tower—has triggered widespread concerns because HMA protects millions of people against water stress 1,2 . However, the mechanisms behind the heterogeneous trends observed in terrestrial water storage (TWS) over the TP remain poorly understood. Here we use a Lagrangian particle dispersion model and satellite observations to attribute about 1 Gt of monthly TWS decline in the southern TP during 2003–2016 to westerlies-carried deficit in precipitation minus evaporation (PME) from the southeast North Atlantic. We further show that HMA blocks the propagation of PME deficit into the central TP, causing a monthly TWS increase by about 0.5 Gt. Furthermore, warming-induced snow and glacial melt as well as drying-induced TWS depletion in HMA weaken the blocking of HMA’s mountains, causing persistent northward expansion of the TP’s TWS deficit since 2009. Future projections under two emissions scenarios verified by satellite observations during 2020–2021 indicate that, by the end of the twenty-first century, up to 84% (for scenario SSP245) and 97% (for scenario SSP585) of the TP could be afflicted by TWS deficits. Our findings indicate a trajectory towards unsustainable water systems in HMA that could exacerbate downstream water stress. 
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  7. Abstract Bosonic Dirac materials are testbeds for dissipationless spin-based electronics. In the quasi two-dimensional honeycomb lattice of CrX 3 (X = Cl, Br, I), Dirac magnons have been predicted at the crossing of acoustical and optical spin waves, analogous to Dirac fermions in graphene. Here we show that, distinct from CrBr 3 and CrI 3 , gapless Dirac magnons are present in bulk CrCl 3 , with inelastic neutron scattering intensity at low temperatures approaching zero at the Dirac K point. Upon warming, magnon-magnon interactions induce strong renormalization and decreased lifetimes, with a ~25% softening of the upper magnon branch intensity from 5 to 50 K, though magnon features persist well above T N . Moreover, on cooling below ~50 K, an anomalous increase in the a -axis lattice constant and a hardening of a ~26 meV phonon feature are observed, indicating magnetoelastic and spin-phonon coupling arising from an increase in the in-plane spin correlations that begins tens of Kelvin above T N . 
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