Scientific Results

Photonic Microhand with Autonomous Action

Year: 2017

Authors: Martella D., Nocentini S., Nuzhdin D., Parmeggiani C., Wiersma D.

Autors Affiliation: European Laboratory for Non Linear Spectroscopy (LENS), University of Florence, Via Nello Carrara 1, Sesto Fiorentino, 50019, Italy; Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche-Istituto Nazionale di Ottica, Via Nello Carrara 1, Sesto Fiorentino, 50019, Italy; Istituto Nazionale di Ricerca Metrologica (INRiM), Strada delle Cacce 91, Torino, 10135, Italy

Abstract: Grabbing and holding objects at the microscale is a complex function, even for microscopic living animals. Inspired by the hominid-type hand, a microscopic equivalent able to catch microelements is engineered. This microhand is light sensitive and can be either remotely controlled by optical illumination or can act autonomously and grab small particles on the basis of their optical properties. Since the energy is delivered optically, without the need for wires or batteries, the artificial hand can be shrunk down to the micrometer scale. Soft material is used, in particular, a custom-made liquid-crystal network that is patterned by a photolithographic technique. The elastic reshaping properties of this material allow finger movement, using environmental light as the only energy source. The hand can be either controlled externally (via the light field), or else the conditions in which it autonomously grabs a particle in its vicinity can be created. This microrobot has the unique feature that it can distinguish between particles of different colors and gray levels. The realization of this autonomous hand constitutes a crucial element in the development of microscopic creatures that can perform tasks without human intervention and self-organized automation at the micrometer scale.

Journal/Review: ADVANCED MATERIALS

Volume: 29 (42)      Pages from: 1704047-1  to: 1704047-8

More Information: D.M. and S.N. contributed equally to this work. The authors acknowledge Simone Zanotto for helping with FEM calculations and Filippo Micheletti for the support during experiments with the IR thermal camera. The research leading to these results has received funding from the European Research Council under the European Union’s Seventh Framework Program (FP7/2007-2013)/ERC grant agreement no. [291349] on photonic microrobotics and from Laserlab-Europe EU-H2020 654148. The authors also thank Ente Cassa di Risparmio di Firenze (2015/0782 and 2015/0781). D.N. was supported by the Erasmus Mundus Doctorate Program Europhotonics (Grant No. 159224-1-2009-1-FR-ERA MUNDUS-EMJD).
KeyWords: Liquid crystals; Micrometers, Autonomous operations; Direct laser writing; Liquid crystalline networks; Microhands; Microrobots; Optical properties
DOI: 10.1002/adma.201704047

Citations: 23
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