Microrobot gets to grips with bubbles

Written for Chemistry World by Philippa Matthews

A remotely controlled micro-robot uses air bubbles to grip on to and assemble sub-millimetre sized components.

The microgripper lifts a poly(ethylene glycol) diacrylate hydrogel disc (pink) and stacks it on top of a another hydrogel disc (blue).

Source: Royal Society of Chemistry


Gripping and manipulating sub-millimetre objects is a tricky problem in microrobotics. Mechanical grasping is difficult at micro level, and techniques such as micro-machined grippers, although very accurate, need to be tethered to a control system and so are unsuitable for work in confined spaces.

To overcome these problems, Metin Sitti and his team from the Max Planck Institute in Germany have developed an untethered microgripper, which uses surface tension, rather than mechanical means, to grab small parts, such as a hair, a cloth fibre or a piece of muscle tissue. The gripper works in an aqueous environment, can grab both hydrophilic and hydrophobic items and, unlike other systems, does not need to be customised to fit to the item.

Read the full article in Chemistry World.

Programmable assembly of heterogeneous microparts by an untethered mobile capillary microgripper

Joshua Giltinan, Eric Diller and Metin Sitti

Lab Chip, 2016, 16, 4445-4457

DOI: 10.1039/C6LC00981F, Paper

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