Special Issue "Micro/Nano Robotics"

A special issue of Micromachines (ISSN 2072-666X).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 October 2015).

Special Issue Editors

Prof. Dr. Toshio Fukuda
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
1. Institute for Advanced Research, Nagoya University, Chikusa-ku, Nagoya 464-8601, Japan
2. Department of Mechatronics Engineering, Meijo University, Nagoya, Aichi Prefecture 468-0073, Japan
3. School of Mechatronical Engineering, Beijing Institute of Technology, Beijing, 100081, China
Fax: +81 52 789 3115
Interests: intelligent robotic and mechatronic system; cellular robotic system; micro- and nano-robotic system
Special Issues and Collections in MDPI journals
Dr. Mohd Ridzuan bin Ahmad
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Control and Mechatronics Engineering, Faculty of Electrical Engineering, Universiti Teknologi Malaysia, 81310 Skudai, Johor, Malaysia
Interests: micro-nano systems engineering; single cell analysis; multi-agent robotics systems
Special Issues and Collections in MDPI journals
Dr. Yajing Shen
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Mechanical and Biomedical Engineering, City University of Hong Kong Tat Chee Avenue, Kowloon, Hong Kong, China
Interests: robotics; micro-nano manipulation; cell assembly; DNA origami; nano characterization
Special Issues and Collections in MDPI journals

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

With the rapid progress of robot technology, micro/nano robotics have significantly impacted our daily life, such as advanced manufacturing, high precision manipulation, material characterization, biological cell manipulation, and so on. It paves new ways for study at a small scale, and has been regarded as an essential technology for basic research and industrial applications. Nowadays, both the fundamental theories and the practical applications of micro/nano robots have received increasing interest. This Special Issue aims to showcase review or rigorous original papers describing current and expected challenges, along with potential solutions, for Micro/Nano Robotics in the journal Micromachines (2013 IF: 1.286). Potential topics include, but are not limited to:

  • Novel micro/nano robotic design and development
  • Novel control theories for micro/nano robots
  • Novel sensing technologies for micro/nano robots
  • Novel applications of micro/nano robots in advanced manufacturing, high precision manipulation, and industry
  • Novel applications of micro/nano robots in basic material and biological research

Prof. Dr. Toshio Fukuda
Dr. Mohd Ridzuan bin Ahmad
Dr. Yajing Shen
Guest Editors


Manuscript Submission Information

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Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Micromachines is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1400 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • micro/nano robot
  • micro/nano systems
  • micro/nano mechatronics
  • micro-nano materials
  • micro-nano bio-systems

Published Papers (11 papers)

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Research

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Open AccessArticle
Switching between Magnetotactic and Aerotactic Displacement Controls to Enhance the Efficacy of MC-1 Magneto-Aerotactic Bacteria as Cancer-Fighting Nanorobots
Micromachines 2016, 7(6), 97; https://doi.org/10.3390/mi7060097 - 25 May 2016
Cited by 7
Abstract
The delivery of drug molecules to tumor hypoxic areas could yield optimal therapeutic outcomes. This suggests that effective cancer-fighting micro- or nanorobots would require more integrated functionalities than just the development of directional propelling constructs which have so far been the main general [...] Read more.
The delivery of drug molecules to tumor hypoxic areas could yield optimal therapeutic outcomes. This suggests that effective cancer-fighting micro- or nanorobots would require more integrated functionalities than just the development of directional propelling constructs which have so far been the main general emphasis in medical micro- and nanorobotic research. Development of artificial agents that would be most effective in targeting hypoxic regions may prove to be a very challenging task considering present technological constraints. Self-propelled, sensory-based and directionally-controlled agents in the form of Magnetotactic Bacteria (MTB) of the MC-1 strain have been investigated as effective therapeutic nanorobots in cancer therapy. Following computer-based magnetotactic guidance to reach the tumor area, the microaerophilic response of drug-loaded MC-1 cells could be exploited in the tumoral interstitial fluid microenvironments. Accordingly, their swimming paths would be guided by a decreasing oxygen concentration towards the hypoxic regions. However, the implementation of such a targeting strategy calls for a method to switch from a computer-assisted magnetotactic displacement control to an autonomous aerotactic displacement control. In this way, the MC-1 cells will navigate to tumoral regions and, once there, target hypoxic areas through their microaerophilic behavior. Here we show not only how the magnitude of the magnetic field can be used for this purpose but how the findings could help determine the specifications of a future compatible interventional platform within known technological and medical constraints. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Micro/Nano Robotics)
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Open AccessArticle
Miniaturized Rotary Actuators Using Shape Memory Alloy for Insect-Type MEMS Microrobot
Micromachines 2016, 7(4), 58; https://doi.org/10.3390/mi7040058 - 31 Mar 2016
Cited by 7
Abstract
Although several types of locomotive microrobots have been developed, most of them have difficulty locomoting on uneven surfaces. Thus, we have been focused on microrobots that can locomote using step patterns. We are studying insect-type microrobot systems. The locomotion of the microrobot is [...] Read more.
Although several types of locomotive microrobots have been developed, most of them have difficulty locomoting on uneven surfaces. Thus, we have been focused on microrobots that can locomote using step patterns. We are studying insect-type microrobot systems. The locomotion of the microrobot is generated by rotational movements of the shape memory alloy-type rotary actuator. In addition, we have constructed artificial neural networks by using analog integrated circuit (IC) technology. The artificial neural networks can output the driving waveform without using software programs. The shape memory alloy-type rotary actuator and the artificial neural networks are constructed with silicon wafers; they can be integrated by using micro-electromechanical system (MEMS) technology. As a result, the MEMS microrobot system can locomote using step patterns. The insect-type MEMS microrobot system is 0.079 g in weight and less than 5.0 mm in size, and its locomotion speed is 2 mm/min. The locomotion speed is slow because the heat of the shape memory alloy conducts to the mechanical parts of the MEMS microrobot. In this paper, we discuss a new rotary actuator compared with the previous model and show the continuous rotation of the proposed rotary actuator. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Micro/Nano Robotics)
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Open AccessArticle
Microfluidic Device to Measure the Speed of C. elegans Using the Resistance Change of the Flexible Electrode
Micromachines 2016, 7(3), 50; https://doi.org/10.3390/mi7030050 - 19 Mar 2016
Cited by 2
Abstract
This work presents a novel method to assess the condition of Caenorhabditis elegans (C. elegans) through a resistance measurement of its undulatory locomotion speed inside a micro channel. As the worm moves over the electrode inside the micro channel, the length [...] Read more.
This work presents a novel method to assess the condition of Caenorhabditis elegans (C. elegans) through a resistance measurement of its undulatory locomotion speed inside a micro channel. As the worm moves over the electrode inside the micro channel, the length of the electrode changes, consequently behaving like a strain gauge. In this paper, the electrotaxis was applied for controlling the direction of motion of C. elegans as an external stimulus, resulting in the worm moving towards the cathode of the circuit. To confirm the proposed measurement method, a microfluidic device was developed that employs a sinusoidal channel and a thin polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) layer with an electrode. The PDMS layer maintains a porous structure to enable the flexibility of the electrode. In this study, 6 measurements were performed to obtain the speed of an early adult stage C. elegans, where the measured average speed was 0.35 (±0.05) mm/s. The results of this work demonstrate the application of our method to measure the speed of C. elegans undulatory locomotion. This novel approach can be applied to make such measurements without an imaging system, and more importantly, allows directly to detect the locomotion of C. elegans using an electrical signal (i.e., the change in resistance). Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Micro/Nano Robotics)
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Open AccessArticle
Digital Micromirror Device (DMD)-Based High-Cycle Torsional Fatigue Testing Micromachine for 1D Nanomaterials
Micromachines 2016, 7(3), 49; https://doi.org/10.3390/mi7030049 - 14 Mar 2016
Cited by 7
Abstract
Fatigue behavior of nanomaterials could ultimately limit their applications in variable nano-devices and flexible nanoelectronics. However, very few existing nanoscale mechanical testing instruments were designed for dedicated fatigue experiments, especially for the challenging torsional cyclic loading. In this work, a novel high-cycle torsion [...] Read more.
Fatigue behavior of nanomaterials could ultimately limit their applications in variable nano-devices and flexible nanoelectronics. However, very few existing nanoscale mechanical testing instruments were designed for dedicated fatigue experiments, especially for the challenging torsional cyclic loading. In this work, a novel high-cycle torsion straining micromachine, based on the digital micromirror device (DMD), has been developed for the torsional fatigue study on various one-dimensional (1D) nanostructures, such as metallic and semiconductor nanowires. Due to the small footprint of the DMD chip itself and its cable-remote controlling mechanisms, it can be further used for the desired in situ testing under high-resolution optical or electron microscopes (e.g., scanning electron microscope (SEM)), which allows real-time monitoring of the fatigue testing status and construction of useful structure-property relationships for the nanomaterials. We have then demonstrated its applications for testing nanowire samples with diameters about 100 nm and 500 nm, up to 1000 nm, and some of them experienced over hundreds of thousands of loading cycles before fatigue failure. Due to the commercial availability of the DMD and millions of micromirrors available on a single chip, this platform could offer a low-cost and high-throughput nanomechanical solution for the uncovered torsional fatigue behavior of various 1D nanostructures. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Micro/Nano Robotics)
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Open AccessArticle
Oocytes Polar Body Detection for Automatic Enucleation
Micromachines 2016, 7(2), 27; https://doi.org/10.3390/mi7020027 - 14 Feb 2016
Cited by 3
Abstract
Enucleation is a crucial step in cloning. In order to achieve automatic blind enucleation, we should detect the polar body of the oocyte automatically. The conventional polar body detection approaches have low success rate or low efficiency. We propose a polar body detection [...] Read more.
Enucleation is a crucial step in cloning. In order to achieve automatic blind enucleation, we should detect the polar body of the oocyte automatically. The conventional polar body detection approaches have low success rate or low efficiency. We propose a polar body detection method based on machine learning in this paper. On one hand, the improved Histogram of Oriented Gradient (HOG) algorithm is employed to extract features of polar body images, which will increase success rate. On the other hand, a position prediction method is put forward to narrow the search range of polar body, which will improve efficiency. Experiment results show that the success rate is 96% for various types of polar bodies. Furthermore, the method is applied to an enucleation experiment and improves the degree of automatic enucleation. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Micro/Nano Robotics)
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Open AccessArticle
A New XYZ Compliant Parallel Mechanism for Micro-/Nano-Manipulation: Design and Analysis
Micromachines 2016, 7(2), 23; https://doi.org/10.3390/mi7020023 - 01 Feb 2016
Cited by 7
Abstract
Based on the constraint and position identification (CPI) approach for synthesizing XYZ compliant parallel mechanisms (CPMs) and configuration modifications, this paper proposes a new fully-symmetrical XYZ CPM with desired motion characteristics such as reduced cross-axis coupling, minimized lost motion, and relatively small parasitic [...] Read more.
Based on the constraint and position identification (CPI) approach for synthesizing XYZ compliant parallel mechanisms (CPMs) and configuration modifications, this paper proposes a new fully-symmetrical XYZ CPM with desired motion characteristics such as reduced cross-axis coupling, minimized lost motion, and relatively small parasitic motion. The good motion characteristics arise from not only its symmetric configuration, but also the rigid linkages between non-adjacent rigid stages. Comprehensive kinematic analysis is carried out based on a series of finite element simulations over a motion range per axis less than ±5% of the beam length, which reveals that the maximum cross-axis coupling rate is less than 0.86%, the maximum lost motion rate is less than 1.20%, the parasitic rotations of the motion stage (MS) are in the order of 10−5 rad, and the parasitic translations of the three actuated stages (ASs) are in the order of 10−4 of the beam length (less than 0.3% of the motion range), where the beam slenderness ratio is larger than 20. Furthermore, the nonlinear analytical models of the primary translations of the XYZ CPM, including the primary translations of the MS and the ASs, are derived and validated to provide a quick design synthesis. Moreover, two practical design schemes of the proposed XYZ CPM are discussed with consideration of the manufacturability. The practical designs enable the XYZ CPM to be employed in many applications such as micro-/nano-positioning, micro-/nano-manufacturing and micro-/nano-assembly. Finally, a spatial high-precision translational system is presented based on the practical design schemes, taking the actuator and sensor integration into account. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Micro/Nano Robotics)
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Open AccessArticle
Towards Independent Control of Multiple Magnetic Mobile Microrobots
Micromachines 2016, 7(1), 3; https://doi.org/10.3390/mi7010003 - 29 Dec 2015
Cited by 23
Abstract
In this paper, we have developed an approach for independent autonomous navigation of multiple microrobots under the influence of magnetic fields and validated it experimentally. We first developed a heuristics based planning algorithm for generating collision-free trajectories for the microrobots that are suitable [...] Read more.
In this paper, we have developed an approach for independent autonomous navigation of multiple microrobots under the influence of magnetic fields and validated it experimentally. We first developed a heuristics based planning algorithm for generating collision-free trajectories for the microrobots that are suitable to be executed by an available magnetic field. Second, we have modeled the dynamics of the microrobots to develop a controller for determining the forces that need to be generated for the navigation of the robots along the trajectories at a suitable control frequency. Next, an optimization routine is developed to determine the input currents to the electromagnetic coils that can generate the required forces for the navigation of the robots at the controller frequency. We then validated our approach by simulating an electromagnetic system that contains an array of sixty-four magnetic microcoils designed for generating local magnetic fields suitable for simultaneous independent actuation of multiple microrobots. Finally, we prototyped an m m -scale version of the system and present experimental results showing the validity of our approach. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Micro/Nano Robotics)
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Open AccessArticle
Calibration of Nanopositioning Stages
Micromachines 2015, 6(12), 1856-1875; https://doi.org/10.3390/mi6121461 - 01 Dec 2015
Cited by 6
Abstract
Accuracy is one of the most important criteria for the performance evaluation of micro- and nanorobots or systems. Nanopositioning stages are used to achieve the high positioning resolution and accuracy for a wide and growing scope of applications. However, their positioning accuracy and [...] Read more.
Accuracy is one of the most important criteria for the performance evaluation of micro- and nanorobots or systems. Nanopositioning stages are used to achieve the high positioning resolution and accuracy for a wide and growing scope of applications. However, their positioning accuracy and repeatability are not well known and difficult to guarantee, which induces many drawbacks for many applications. For example, in the mechanical characterisation of biological samples, it is difficult to perform several cycles in a repeatable way so as not to induce negative influences on the study. It also prevents one from controlling accurately a tool with respect to a sample without adding additional sensors for closed loop control. This paper aims at quantifying the positioning repeatability and accuracy based on the ISO 9283:1998 standard, and analyzing factors influencing positioning accuracy onto a case study of 1-DoF (Degree-of-Freedom) nanopositioning stage. The influence of thermal drift is notably quantified. Performances improvement of the nanopositioning stage are then investigated through robot calibration (i.e., open-loop approach). Two models (static and adaptive models) are proposed to compensate for both geometric errors and thermal drift. Validation experiments are conducted over a long period (several days) showing that the accuracy of the stage is improved from typical micrometer range to 400 nm using the static model and even down to 100 nm using the adaptive model. In addition, we extend the 1-DoF calibration to multi-DoF with a case study of a 2-DoF nanopositioning robot. Results demonstrate that the model efficiently improved the 2D accuracy from 1400 nm to 200 nm. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Micro/Nano Robotics)
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Open AccessArticle
Characteristic Evaluation of a Shrouded Propeller Mechanism for a Magnetic Actuated Microrobot
Micromachines 2015, 6(9), 1272-1288; https://doi.org/10.3390/mi6091272 - 03 Sep 2015
Cited by 16
Abstract
Medical microrobots have been widely used in clinical applications, particularly the spiral type locomotion mechanism, which was recently considered one of the main self-propelling mechanisms for the next medical microrobot to perform tasks such as capsule endoscopy and drug delivery. However, limits in [...] Read more.
Medical microrobots have been widely used in clinical applications, particularly the spiral type locomotion mechanism, which was recently considered one of the main self-propelling mechanisms for the next medical microrobot to perform tasks such as capsule endoscopy and drug delivery. However, limits in clinical applications still exist. The spiral action of the microrobot while being used for diagnosis may lead to pain or even damage to the intestinal wall due to the exposed mechanisms. Therefore, a new locomotive mechanism, named the shrouded propeller mechanism, was proposed to achieve a high level of medical safety as well as effective propulsive performance in our study. The shrouded propeller mechanism consists of a bare spiral propeller and a non-rotating nozzle. To obtain a high effective propulsive performance, two types of screw grooves with different shapes including the cylindrical screw groove and the rectangular screw groove with different parameters were analyzed using the shrouded model. Two types of magnetic actuated microrobots with different driving modes, the electromagnetic (three-pole rotor) actuated microrobot and the permanent magnet (O-ring type magnet) actuated microrobot were designed to evaluate the performance of the electromagnetic actuation system. Based on experimental results, the propulsive force of the proposed magnetic actuated microrobot with a shrouded propeller was larger than the magnetic actuated microrobot with a bare spiral propeller under the same parameters. Additionally, the shrouded propeller mechanism as an actuator can be used for other medical microrobots for flexible locomotion. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Micro/Nano Robotics)
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Review

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Open AccessReview
Scanning Micromirror Platform Based on MEMS Technology for Medical Application
Micromachines 2016, 7(2), 24; https://doi.org/10.3390/mi7020024 - 06 Feb 2016
Cited by 19
Abstract
This topical review discusses recent development and trends on scanning micromirrors for biomedical applications. This also includes a biomedical micro robot for precise manipulations in a limited volume. The characteristics of medical scanning micromirror are explained in general with the fundamental of microelectromechanical [...] Read more.
This topical review discusses recent development and trends on scanning micromirrors for biomedical applications. This also includes a biomedical micro robot for precise manipulations in a limited volume. The characteristics of medical scanning micromirror are explained in general with the fundamental of microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) for fabrication processes. Along with the explanations of mechanism and design, the principle of actuation are provided for general readers. In this review, several testing methodology and examples are described based on many types of actuators, such as, electrothermal actuators, electrostatic actuators, electromagnetic actuators, pneumatic actuators, and shape memory alloy. Moreover, this review provides description of the key fabrication processes and common materials in order to be a basic guideline for selecting micro-actuators. With recent developments on scanning micromirrors, performances of biomedical application are enhanced for higher resolution, high accuracy, and high dexterity. With further developments on integrations and control schemes, MEMS-based scanning micromirrors would be able to achieve a better performance for medical applications due to small size, ease in microfabrication, mass production, high scanning speed, low power consumption, mechanical stable, and integration compatibility. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Micro/Nano Robotics)
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Open AccessReview
Magnetic Actuation Based Motion Control for Microrobots: An Overview
Micromachines 2015, 6(9), 1346-1364; https://doi.org/10.3390/mi6091346 - 15 Sep 2015
Cited by 48
Abstract
Untethered, controllable, mobile microrobots have been proposed for numerous applications, ranging from micro-manipulation, in vitro tasks (e.g., operation of microscale biological substances) to in vivo applications (e.g., targeted drug delivery; brachytherapy; hyperthermia, etc.), due to their small-scale dimensions and accessibility to tiny and [...] Read more.
Untethered, controllable, mobile microrobots have been proposed for numerous applications, ranging from micro-manipulation, in vitro tasks (e.g., operation of microscale biological substances) to in vivo applications (e.g., targeted drug delivery; brachytherapy; hyperthermia, etc.), due to their small-scale dimensions and accessibility to tiny and complex environments. Researchers have used different magnetic actuation systems allowing custom-designed workspace and multiple degrees of freedom (DoF) to actuate microrobots with various motion control methods from open-loop pre-programmed control to closed-loop path-following control. This article provides an overview of the magnetic actuation systems and the magnetic actuation-based control methods for microrobots. An overall benchmark on the magnetic actuation system and control method is also discussed according to the applications of microrobots. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Micro/Nano Robotics)
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