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Micro Robot Dragonfly

Micro Robot Dragonfly

Students from Texas Tech University have won the “Novel Design” category in the “MEMS University Alliance Design Competition” sponsored by Sandia National Labs with a design for a dust mite sized dragonfly. “MEMS” stands for Micro Electro Mechanical Systems and deals with the technology of very small electro mechanical devices.

MICROBOTIC Dragonfly – [sandia.gov]

We describe the design of sub-millimeter air vehicles developed using the SUMMiT VTM fabrication process. These micro-air vehicle designs are based on a functional prototype which was developed by the Texas Tech University MEMS Group. The prototype design integrates dragonfly inspired biomimetic structures with thermal actuation mechanisms to produce flappable wings. This configuration can be used to explore new dimensions in flying microrobots or nano/micro transport devices. The wings in these microstructures are designed to achieve 30μm of vertical deflection. A series of experimental procedures are proposed for device characterization and functionality of the fabricated system.

The objective is to produce biomimetic micro-robotic devices designed in the SUMMiT VTM process.

  • Design an on-chip wing system capable of generating lift
  • Integrate the wing system with a cantilever structure to quantify the lift
  • Implement a detachable wing system that can be integrated with different platforms for use as stand-alone devices
  • Develop an optothermal passive device for un-tethered flight

Unmanned air vehicles (UAV) have attained prominence in numerous aeronautic applications spanning both the civilian and military worlds. UAV’s are used in surveying enemy locations and recently were used to quantify the amount of radiation leaking from the earthquake damaged nuclear plants in Japan. With the advent of MEMS sensors and the revolution in miniaturization of electronics, the size of robots has also shrunk leading to development of devices like micro air vehicles (MAVs). The MAVs are already of great help to armed forces for sensing and acting upon targets. Further advances will produce additional applications, especially for successful penetration of otherwise inaccessible targets. The recently developed MAVs are inspired by insect flight [1,2,3]. The biological inspired MAV designs generate both lift and thrust by flapping their wing structures to generate aerodynamic forces. Functional designs range in size from 15 cm down to less than a single centimeter. All of them still use macro-sized mechanical parts like motors and gears for achieving motion. There is still much work to be done in the development of MEMS MAVs.

The Air Force Institute of Technology has designed a power scavenging, 500μm optothermally actuated micro robot. These robots are designed to heat and cool asymmetrically so as to rotate and generate lift. Using a 660nm laser to induce actuation, vertical wing tip deflection of 7.2μm was observed [4]. Additional work included biomimetic wing structures that use thermal bimorph actuators made using polysilicon and gold layers to displace 240μm long wings to achieve vertical deflection of 30μm [5].

The TTU designs will be fabricated using the Sandia Ultra Planar Multi-level MEMS Technology (SUMMiT V) process. The strengths of the five-layer poly-Si SUMMiT process will be exploited to achieve the design goals.

MicroElectroMechanical Systems (MEMS) – [sandia.gov]

Welcome to the Silicon-Based MEMS site at Sandia National Laboratories.

Sandia is a world leader in the technology required for development, fabrication, and production of microelectronic, photonic, micromachine and microsensor devices and products.

Sandia also has the ability to integrate these devices into complete microsystems. Microsystems that sense, think, act, communicate and self-power will make our nation more secure, revolutionize our industries, and will make the revolution in biology a reality.

Distinguishing strengths include materials growth and development, device and product design, fabrication technologies for silicon and compound semiconductor devices, advanced packaging technologies, reliability, failure analysis and product delivery for extreme environments.

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Hummingbird Drones
Jonathan Livingston Robot

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