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  1. Abstract The design of robots at the small scale is a trial-and-error based process, which is costly and time-consuming. There are few dynamic simulation tools available to accurately predict the motion or performance of untethered microrobots as they move over a substrate. At smaller length scales, the influence of adhesion and friction, which scales with surface area, becomes more pronounced. Thus, rigid body dynamic simulators, which implicitly assume that contact between two bodies can be modeled as point contact, are not suitable. In this paper, we present techniques for simulating the motion of microrobots where there can be intermittent and non-point contact between the robot and the substrate. We use these techniques to study the motion of tumbling microrobots of different shapes and select shapes that are optimal for improving locomotion performance. Simulation results are verified using experimental data on linear velocity, maximum climbable incline angle, and microrobot trajectory. Microrobots with improved geometry were fabricated, but limitations in the fabrication process resulted in unexpected manufacturing errors and material/size scale adjustments. The developed simulation model can incorporate these limitations and emulate their effect on the microrobot’s motion, reproducing the experimental behavior of the tumbling microrobots, further showcasing the effectiveness of havingmore »such a dynamic model.« less
  2. Small soft robotic systems are being explored for myriad applications in medicine. Specifically, magnetically actuated microrobots capable of remote manipulation hold significant potential for the targeted delivery of therapeutics and biologicals. Much of previous efforts on microrobotics have been dedicated to locomotion in aqueous environments and hard surfaces. However, our human bodies are made of dense biological tissues, requiring researchers to develop new microrobotics that can locomote atop tissue surfaces. Tumbling microrobots are a sub-category of these devices capable of walking on surfaces guided by rotating magnetic fields. Using microrobots to deliver payloads to specific regions of sensitive tissues is a primary goal of medical microrobots. Central nervous system (CNS) tissues are a prime candidate given their delicate structure and highly region-specific function. Here we demonstrate surface walking of soft alginate capsules capable of moving on top of a rat cortex and mouse spinal cord ex vivo , demonstrating multi-location small molecule delivery to up to six different locations on each type of tissue with high spatial specificity. The softness of alginate gel prevents injuries that may arise from friction with CNS tissues during millirobot locomotion. Development of this technology may be useful in clinical and preclinical applications such asmore »drug delivery, neural stimulation, and diagnostic imaging.« less
  3. In this modern world, with the increase of complexity of many technologies, especially in the micro and nanoscale, the field of robotic manipulation has tremendously grown. Microrobots and other complex microscale systems are often to laborious to fabricate using standard microfabrication techniques, therefore there is a trend towards fabricating them in parts then assembling them together, mainly using micromanipulation tools. Here, a comprehensive and robust micromanipulation platform is presented, in which four micromanipulators can be used simultaneously to perform complex tasks, providing the user with an intuitive environment. The system utilizes a vision-based force sensor to aid with manipulation tasks and it provides a safe environment for biomanipulation. Lastly, virtual reality (VR) was incorporated into the system, allowing the user to control the probes from a more intuitive standpoint and providing an immersive platform for the future of micromanipulation.
  4. Three-dimensional (3D) shape measurement based on the fringe projection technique has been extensively used for scientific discoveries and industrial practices. Yet, one of the most challenging issues is its limited depth of field (DOF). This paper presents a method to drastically increase DOF of 3D shape measurement technique by employing the focal sweep method. The proposed method employs an electrically tunable lens (ETL) to rapidly sweep the focal plane during image integration and the post deconvolution algorithm to reconstruct focused images for 3D reconstruction. Experimental results demonstrated that our proposed method can achieve high-resolution and high-accuracy 3D shape measurement with greatly improved DOF in real time.

  5. A microrobot system comprising an untethered tumbling magnetic microrobot, a two-degree-of-freedom rotating permanent magnet, and an ultrasound imaging system has been developed for in vitro and in vivo biomedical applications. The microrobot tumbles end-over-end in a net forward motion due to applied magnetic torque from the rotating magnet. By turning the rotational axis of the magnet, two-dimensional directional control is possible and the microrobot was steered along various trajectories, including a circular path and P-shaped path. The microrobot is capable of moving over the unstructured terrain within a murine colon in in vitro, in situ, and in vivo conditions, as well as a porcine colon in ex vivo conditions. High-frequency ultrasound imaging allows for real-time determination of the microrobot’s position while it is optically occluded by animal tissue. When coated with a fluorescein payload, the microrobot was shown to release the majority of the payload over a 1-h time period in phosphate-buffered saline. Cytotoxicity tests demonstrated that the microrobot’s constituent materials, SU-8 and polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS), did not show a statistically significant difference in toxicity to murine fibroblasts from the negative control, even when the materials were doped with magnetic neodymium microparticles. The microrobot system’s capabilities make it promising for targetedmore »drug delivery and other in vivo biomedical applications.« less
  6. This paper reviews recent developments of non-contact three-dimensional (3D) surface metrology using an active structured optical probe. We focus primarily on those active non-contact 3D surface measurement techniques that could be applicable to the manufacturing industry. We discuss principles of each technology, and its advantageous characteristics as well as limitations. Towards the end, we discuss our perspectives on the current technological challenges in designing and implementing these methods in practical applications.

  7. This paper presents the use of a micro-force sensing mobile microrobot (μFSMM) for in vitro biomedical applications. The μFSMM utilizes a vision-based force sensor end-effector, which computes the force based on the deflection of a compliant structure with a known stiffness using a computer vision tracking algorithm. The μFSMM is used to characterize the stiffness of several different alginate and hyaluronic acid hydrogel spheroid samples, which are typically used in 3D tissue engineered constructs for studying cellular behavior. Additionally, μFSMM is used to perform safe micromanipulation tasks with these spheroids. These experimental results showcase some of the applications of this unique microrobot design in the fields of mechanobiology, theranostics, and force-guided micromanipulation.