Special Issue "Micromanipulation"

A special issue of Actuators (ISSN 2076-0825).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (5 September 2018)

Special Issue Editor

Guest Editor
Prof. Nicola Pio Belfiore

Department of Engineering, Università degli studi di Roma Tre, via della Vasca Navale 79, 00146, Roma, Italy
Website | E-Mail
Phone: 0039 065733 3316
Interests: Mechanical Design of MEMS/NEMS; Functional Design; Robotics; Tribology; Dynamics

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The demand for high-precision micromanipulation in a large variety of applications has increased during the last few decades, while the development of a feasible and efficient micromanipulator remains a challenge. In fact, at the micro- or nano-scale levels, several paradigms of macro-scale engineering are no longer valid. One of the most central topics is actuation, because the available sources of forces or torques are not able to guarantee a satisfying range for end-effector displacements, and so the mechanical structure of the microsystem must be optimized. Furthermore, micromanipulation is paramount to applications spanning from medicine, surgery or biology, to microelectronics, micromechanics or aerospace.

Contributions from all fields related to micromanipulation are welcome to this Special Issue, particularly the following:

  • Micromanipulation: theory, applications, case studies, project reports (horizons, ERC, and C.).
  • Microsystems for micromanipulation: design, simulation, fabrication and biocompatibility.
  • Actuation: electrostatic, electrothermal, electromagnetic, piezoelectric and C.
  • Microelectromechanical systems: lab-on-chip, mechanical–electrical integrated microsystems, ASIC.
  • Control: automatic regulation and control of microsystems, operational aspects of micromanipulation.
  • Computational intelligence in design and optimization of micromanipulators.
  • Ethics: ethical issues in the application of micromanipulation in medical, biological, aerospace and industrial fields.
  • Education: new trends in microsystems teaching–learning methods, tinkering, open access, wiki tools.
Dr. Nicola Pio Belfiore
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

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Keywords

  • Micromanipulation
  • NEMS
  • MEMS
  • Microactuators
  • Microgrippers
  • Tweezers
  • Control
  • Kinematics
  • Dynamics

Published Papers (8 papers)

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Research

Open AccessArticle An Image Analysis Approach to Microgrippers Displacement Measurement and Testing
Actuators 2018, 7(4), 64; https://doi.org/10.3390/act7040064
Received: 5 September 2018 / Revised: 19 September 2018 / Accepted: 20 September 2018 / Published: 24 September 2018
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Abstract
The number of studies on microgrippers has increased consistently in the past decade, among them the numeric simulations and material characterization are quite common, while the metrological issues related to their performance testing are not well investigated yet. To add some contribution in
[...] Read more.
The number of studies on microgrippers has increased consistently in the past decade, among them the numeric simulations and material characterization are quite common, while the metrological issues related to their performance testing are not well investigated yet. To add some contribution in this field, an image analysis-based method for microgrippers displacement measurement and testing is proposed here: images of a microgripper prototype supplied with different voltages are acquired by an optical system (i.e., a 3D optical profilometer) and processed through in-house software. With the aim to assess the quality of the results a systematic approach is proposed for determining and quantifying the main error sources and applied to the uncertainty estimation in angular displacement measurements of the microgripper comb-drives. A preliminary uncertainty evaluation of the in-house software is provided by a Monte Carlo Simulation and its contribution added to that of the other error sources, giving an estimation of the relative uncertainty up to 3.6% at 95% confidence level for voltages from 10 V to 28 V. Moreover, the measurements on the prototype device highlighted a stable behavior in the voltage range from 0 V to 28 V with a maximum rotation of 1.3° at 28 V, which is lower than in previous studies, likely due to differences in system configuration, model, and material. Anyway, the proposed approach is suitable also for different optical systems (i.e., trinocular microscopes). Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Micromanipulation)
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Open AccessArticle Scalloping and Stress Concentration in DRIE-Manufactured Comb-Drives
Actuators 2018, 7(3), 57; https://doi.org/10.3390/act7030057
Received: 23 July 2018 / Revised: 30 August 2018 / Accepted: 4 September 2018 / Published: 5 September 2018
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Abstract
In the last decades, microelectromechanical systems have been increasing their number of degrees of freedom and their structural complexity. Hence, most recently designed MEMSs have required higher mobility than in the past and higher structural strength and stability. In some applications, device thickness
[...] Read more.
In the last decades, microelectromechanical systems have been increasing their number of degrees of freedom and their structural complexity. Hence, most recently designed MEMSs have required higher mobility than in the past and higher structural strength and stability. In some applications, device thickness increased up to the order of tens (or hundred) of microns, which nowadays can be easily obtained by means of DRIE Bosch process. Unfortunately, scalloping introduces stress concentration regions in some parts of the structure. Stress concentration is a dangerous source of strength loss for the whole structure and for comb-drives actuators which may suffer from side pull-in. This paper presents an analytical approach to characterize stress concentrations in DRIE micro-machined MEMS. The method is based on the linear elasticity equations, the de Saint-Venant Principle, and the boundary value problem for the case of a torsional state of the beam. The results obtained by means of this theoretical method are then compared with those obtained by using two other methods: one based on finite difference discretization of the equations, and one based on finite element analysis (FEA). Finally, the new theoretical approach yields results which are in accordance with the known value of the stress concentration factor for asymptotically null radius notches. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Micromanipulation)
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Open AccessArticle Learning Micromanipulation, Part 2: Term Projects in Practice
Actuators 2018, 7(3), 56; https://doi.org/10.3390/act7030056
Received: 3 August 2018 / Revised: 30 August 2018 / Accepted: 31 August 2018 / Published: 3 September 2018
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Abstract
This paper describes the activities that have been necessary to design, fabricate, control and test some low-cost test stands independently developed by the students enrolled in the course of Micro-Nano sensors and actuators for the postgraduate course in Industrial Nanotechnologies Engineering of the
[...] Read more.
This paper describes the activities that have been necessary to design, fabricate, control and test some low-cost test stands independently developed by the students enrolled in the course of Micro-Nano sensors and actuators for the postgraduate course in Industrial Nanotechnologies Engineering of the University of Rome La Sapienza. The construction and use of these test stands are an essential part of teaching and learning methods whose theoretical bases have been presented in the companion paper (Part 1). Each test stand is composed of a compliant structure and a control system, which consists of a programmable control micro-card equipped with sensors and actuators. The compliant structure consists of a compliant mechanism whose geometry is achieved by scaling some previously developed silicon micromanipuators and microactuators up to the macroscale by a factor of 20. This macroscale model offered a kinesthetic tool to improve the understanding of the original microsystems and their working principles. The original silicon micromechanisms have been previously presented in the literature by the research group after design and deep reactive-ion etching (DRIE) microfabrication. Scaling from micro to macro size was quite easy because the original DRIE masks were bestowed to the students in the form of CAD files. The samples at the macroscale have been fabricated by means of recently available low-cost 3D printers after some necessary modifications of the mask geometry. The purpose of the whole work (Parts 1 and 2) was the improvement of the efficiency of an educational process in the field of microsystem science. By combining the two companion papers, concerning, respectively, the theoretical basis of the teaching methods and the students’ achievements, it is possible to conclude that, in a given class, there may be some preferred activities that are more efficient than others in terms of advancements and satisfaction. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Micromanipulation)
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Open AccessArticle Learning Micromanipulation, Part 1: An Approach Based on Multidimensional Ability Inventories and Text Mining
Actuators 2018, 7(3), 55; https://doi.org/10.3390/act7030055
Received: 3 August 2018 / Revised: 28 August 2018 / Accepted: 31 August 2018 / Published: 3 September 2018
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (599 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
In the last decades, an effort has been made to improve the efficiency of high-level and academic education players. Nowadays, students’ preferences and habits are continuously evolving and so the educational institutions deal with important challenges, such as not losing attractiveness or preventing
[...] Read more.
In the last decades, an effort has been made to improve the efficiency of high-level and academic education players. Nowadays, students’ preferences and habits are continuously evolving and so the educational institutions deal with important challenges, such as not losing attractiveness or preventing early abandonment during the programs. In many countries, some important universities are public, and so they receive national grants that are based on a variety of factors, on which the teaching efficiency has a great impact. This contribution presents a method to improve students commitment during traditional lessons and laboratory tests. The idea consists in planning some activities according to the students’ learning preferences, which were studied by means of two different approaches. The first one was based on Gardner’s multiple intelligence inventory, which is useful to highlight some peculiar characteristics of the students on the specific educational field. In the second method, direct interviews, voice recognition, and text mining were used to extract some interesting characteristics of the group of students who participated in the projects. The methods were applied in May 2018 to the students attending the course of Micro-Nano Sensors and Actuators for the postgraduate academic program dedicated to Industrial Nanotechnologies Engineering of the University of Rome La Sapienza. The present paper represents the first part of the investigation and it is dedicated essentially to the adopted methods. The second part of the work is presented in the companion paper dedicated to the presentation of the practical project that the students completed before the exam. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Micromanipulation)
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Open AccessArticle The Effects of Structure Thickness, Air Gap Thickness and Silicon Type on the Performance of a Horizontal Electrothermal MEMS Microgripper
Actuators 2018, 7(3), 38; https://doi.org/10.3390/act7030038
Received: 20 June 2018 / Revised: 9 July 2018 / Accepted: 11 July 2018 / Published: 15 July 2018
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Abstract
The ongoing development of microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) over the past decades has made possible the achievement of high-precision micromanipulation within the micromanufacturing, microassembly and biomedical fields. This paper presents different design variants of a horizontal electrothermally actuated MEMS microgripper that are developed as
[...] Read more.
The ongoing development of microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) over the past decades has made possible the achievement of high-precision micromanipulation within the micromanufacturing, microassembly and biomedical fields. This paper presents different design variants of a horizontal electrothermally actuated MEMS microgripper that are developed as microsystems to micromanipulate and study the deformability properties of human red blood cells (RBCs). The presented microgripper design variants are all based on the U-shape ‘hot and cold arm’ actuator configuration, and are fabricated using the commercially available Multi-User MEMS Processes (MUMPs®) that are produced by MEMSCAP, Inc. (Durham, NC, USA) and that include both surface micromachined (PolyMUMPs™) and silicon-on-insulator (SOIMUMPs™) MEMS fabrication technologies. The studied microgripper design variants have the same in-plane geometry, with their main differences arising from the thickness of the fabricated structures, the consequent air gap separation between the structure and the substrate surface, as well as the intrinsic nature of the silicon material used. These factors are all inherent characteristics of the specific fabrication technologies used. PolyMUMPs™ utilises polycrystalline silicon structures that are composed of two free-standing, independently stackable structural layers, enabling the user to achieve structure thicknesses of 1.5 μm, 2 μm and 3.5 μm, respectively, whereas SOIMUMPs™ utilises a 25 μm thick single crystal silicon structure having only one free-standing structural layer. The microgripper design variants are presented and compared in this work to investigate the effect of their differences on the temperature distribution and the achieved end-effector displacement. These design variants were analytically studied, as well as numerically modelled using finite element analysis where coupled electrothermomechanical simulations were carried out in CoventorWare® (Version 10, Coventor, Inc., Cary, NC, USA). Experimental results for the microgrippers’ actuation under atmospheric pressure were obtained via optical microscopy studies for the PolyMUMPs™ structures, and they were found to be conforming with the predictions of the analytical and numerical models. The focus of this work is to identify which one of the studied design variants best optimises the microgripper’s electrothermomechanical performance in terms of a sufficient lateral tip displacement, minimum out-of-plane displacement at the arm tips and good heat transfer to limit the temperature at the cell gripping zone, as required for the deformability study of RBCs. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Micromanipulation)
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Open AccessArticle Polymer Microgripper with Autofocusing and Visual Tracking Operations to Grip Particle Moving in Liquid
Actuators 2018, 7(2), 27; https://doi.org/10.3390/act7020027
Received: 21 May 2018 / Revised: 7 June 2018 / Accepted: 7 June 2018 / Published: 11 June 2018
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Abstract
A visual-servo automatic micromanipulating system was developed and tested for gripping the moving microparticle suspended in liquid well. An innovative design of microgripper integrated with flexible arms was utilized to constrain particles in a moving work space. A novel focus function by non-normalized
[...] Read more.
A visual-servo automatic micromanipulating system was developed and tested for gripping the moving microparticle suspended in liquid well. An innovative design of microgripper integrated with flexible arms was utilized to constrain particles in a moving work space. A novel focus function by non-normalized wavelet entropy was proposed and utilized to estimate the depth for the alignment of microgripper tips and moving particle in the same focus plane. An enhanced tracking algorithm, which is based on Polar Coordinate System Similarity, incorporated with template matching, edge detection method, and circular Hough Transform, was implemented. Experimental tests of the manipulation processes from moving gripper to tracking, gripping, transporting, and releasing 30–50 μm Polystyrene particle in 25 °C water were carried out. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Micromanipulation)
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Open AccessArticle Innovative Silicon Microgrippers for Biomedical Applications: Design, Mechanical Simulation and Evaluation of Protein Fouling
Actuators 2018, 7(2), 12; https://doi.org/10.3390/act7020012
Received: 8 March 2018 / Revised: 20 March 2018 / Accepted: 21 March 2018 / Published: 24 March 2018
Cited by 4 | PDF Full-text (9583 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
The demand of miniaturized, accurate and robust micro-tools for minimally invasive surgery or in general for micro-manipulation, has grown tremendously in recent years. To meet this need, a new-concept comb-driven microgripper was designed and fabricated. Two microgripper prototypes differing for both the number
[...] Read more.
The demand of miniaturized, accurate and robust micro-tools for minimally invasive surgery or in general for micro-manipulation, has grown tremendously in recent years. To meet this need, a new-concept comb-driven microgripper was designed and fabricated. Two microgripper prototypes differing for both the number of links and the number of conjugate surface flexure hinges are presented. Their design takes advantage of an innovative concept based on the pseudo-rigid body model, while the study of microgripper mechanical potentialities in different configurations is supported by finite elements’ simulations. These microgrippers, realized by the deep reactive-ion etching technology, are intended as micro-tools for tissue or cell manipulation and for minimally invasive surgery; therefore, their biocompatibility in terms of protein fouling was assessed. Serum albumin dissolved in phosphate buffer was selected to mimic the physiological environment and its adsorption on microgrippers was measured. The presented microgrippers demonstrated having great potential as biomedical tools, showing a modest propensity to adsorb proteins, independently from the protein concentration and time of incubation. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Micromanipulation)
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Open AccessArticle Modeling a Pull-In Instability in Micro-Machined Hybrid Contactless Suspension
Actuators 2018, 7(1), 11; https://doi.org/10.3390/act7010011
Received: 26 February 2018 / Revised: 16 March 2018 / Accepted: 16 March 2018 / Published: 20 March 2018
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Abstract
A micro-machined hybrid contactless suspension, in which a conductive proof mass is inductively levitated within an electrostatic field, is studied. This hybrid suspension has the unique capability to control the stiffness, in particular along the vertical direction, over a wide range, which is
[...] Read more.
A micro-machined hybrid contactless suspension, in which a conductive proof mass is inductively levitated within an electrostatic field, is studied. This hybrid suspension has the unique capability to control the stiffness, in particular along the vertical direction, over a wide range, which is limited by a pull-in instability. A prototype of the suspension was micro-fabricated, and the decrease of the vertical component of the stiffness by a factor of 25% was successfully demonstrated. In order to study the pull-in phenomenon of this suspension, an analytical model was developed. Assuming quasi-static behavior of the levitated proof mass, the static and dynamic pull-in of the suspension was comprehensively studied, also yielding a definition for the pull-in parameters of the hybrid suspension. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Micromanipulation)
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