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  1. Abstract

    The placement of SMD components is usually performed with Cartesian type robots, a task known as pick-and-place (P&P). Small Selective Compliance Articulated Robot Arm (SCARA) robots are also growing in popularity for this use because of their quick and accurate performance. This paper describes the use of the Lean Robotic Micromanufacturing (LRM) framework applied on a large, 10kg payload, industrial SCARA robot for PCB assembly. The LRM framework guided the precision evaluation of the PCB assembly process and provided a prediction of the placement precision and yield. We experimentally evaluated the repeatability of the system, as well as the resulting collective errors during the assembly. Results confirm that the P&P task can achieve the required assembly tolerance of 200 microns without employing closed-loop visual servoing, therefore considerably decreasing the system complexity and assembly time.

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  2. Abstract

    Enhancing physical human-robot interaction requires the improvement in the tactile perception of physical touch. Robot skin sensors exhibiting piezoresistive behavior can be used in conjunction with collaborative robots. In past work, fabrication of these tactile arrays was done using cleanroom techniques such as spin coating, photolithography, sputtering, wet and dry etching onto flexible polymers. In this paper, we present an addictive, non-cleanroom improved process of depositing PEDOT: PSS, which is the organic polymer responsible for the piezoresistive phenomenon of the robot skin sensor arrays. This publication details the patterning of the robot skin sensor structures and the adaptation of the inkjet printing technology to the fabrication process. This increases the possibility of scaling the production output while reducing the cleanroom fabrication cost and time from an approximately five-hour PEDOT: PSS deposition process to five minutes. Furthermore, the testing of these skin sensor arrays is carried out on a testing station equipped with a force plunger and an integrated circuit designed to provide perception feedback on various force load profiles controlled in an automated process. The results show uniform deposition of the PEDOT: PSS, consistent resistance measurement, and appropriate tactile response across an array of 16 sensors.

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  3. Abstract

    The mechanoreceptors of the human tactile sensory system contribute to natural grasping manipulations in everyday life. However, in the case of robot systems, attempts to emulate humans’ dexterity are still limited by tactile sensory feedback. In this work, a soft optical lightguide is applied as an afferent nerve fiber in a tactile sensory system. A skin‐like soft silicone material is combined with a bristle friction model, which is capable of fast and easy fabrication. Due to this novel design, the soft sensor can provide not only normal force (up to 5 Newtons) but also lateral force information generated by stick‐slip processes. Through a static force test and slip motion test, its ability to measure normal forces and to detect stick‐slip events is demonstrated. Finally, using a robotic gripper, real‐time control applications are investigated where the sensor helps the gripper apply sufficient force to grasp objects without slipping.

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  4. Abstract

    Direct write Inkjet Printing is a versatile additive manufacturing technology that allows for the fabrication of multiscale structures with dimensions spanning from nano to cm scale. This is made possible due to the development of novel dispensing tools, enabling controlled and precise deposition of fluid with a wide range of viscosities (1 – 50 000 mPas) in nanoliter volumes. As a result, Inkjet printing has been recognized as a potential low-cost alternative for several established manufacturing methods, including cleanroom fabrication. In this paper, we present a characterization study of PEDOT: PSS polymer ink deposition printing process realized with the help of an automated, custom Direct Write Inkjet system. PEDOT: PSS is a highly conductive ink that possesses good film forming capabilities. Applications thus include printing thin films on flexible substrates for tactile (touch) sensors. We applied the Taguchi Design of Experiment (DOE) method to produce the optimal set of PEDOT:PSS ink dispensing parameters, to study their influence on the resulting ink droplet diameter. We experimentally determined that the desired outcome of a printed thin film with minimum thickness is directly related to 1) the minimum volume of dispensed fluid and 2) the presence of a preprocessing step, namely air plasma treatment of the Kapton substrate. Results show that an ink deposit with a minimum diameter of 482 μm, and a thin film with approximately 300 nm thickness were produced with good repeatability.

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  5. Abstract

    Optoelectronic properties of anisotropic crystals vary with direction requiring that the orientation of molecular organic semiconductor crystals is controlled in optoelectronic device active layers to achieve optimal performance. Here, a generalizable strategy to introduce periodic variations in the out‐of‐plane orientations of 5,11‐bis(triisopropylsilylethynyl)anthradithiophene (TIPS ADT) crystals is presented. TIPS ADT crystallized from the melt in the presence of 16 wt.% polyethylene (PE) forms banded spherulites of crystalline fibrils that twist in concert about the radial growth direction. These spherulites exhibit band‐dependent light absorption, photoluminescence, and Raman scattering depending on the local orientation of crystals. Mueller matrix imaging reveals strong circular extinction (CE), with TIPS ADT banded spherulites exhibiting domains of positive or negative CE signal depending on the crystal twisting sense. Furthermore, orientation‐dependent enhancement in charge injection and extraction in films of twisted TIPS ADT crystals compared to films of straight crystals is visualized in local conductive atomic force microscopy maps. This enhancement leads to 3.3‐ and 6.2‐times larger photocurrents and external quantum efficiencies, respectively, in photodetectors comprising twisted crystals than those comprising straight crystals.

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  6. Abstract

    Bio-inspired Topographically Mediated Surfaces (TMSs) based on high aspect ratio nanostructures have recently been attracting significant attention due to their pronounced antimicrobial properties by mechanically disrupting cellular processes. However, scalability of such surfaces is often greatly limited, as most of them rely on micro/nanoscale fabrication techniques. In this report, a cost-effective, scalable, and versatile approach of utilizing diamond nanotechnology for producing TMSs, and using them for limiting the spread of emerging infectious diseases, is introduced. Specifically, diamond-based nanostructured coatings are synthesized in a single-step fabrication process with a densely packed, needle- or spike-like morphology. The antimicrobial proprieties of the diamond nanospike surface are qualitatively and quantitatively analyzed and compared to other surfaces including copper, silicon, and even other diamond surfaces without the nanostructuring. This surface is found to have superior biocidal activity, which is confirmed via scanning electron microscopy images showing definite and widespread destruction ofE. colicells on the diamond nanospike surface. Consistent antimicrobial behavior is also observed on a sample prepared seven years prior to testing date.

    Graphical Abstract

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  7. Abstract

    When a water drop is placed onto a soft polymer network, a wetting ridge develops at the drop periphery. The height of this wetting ridge is typically governed by the drop surface tension balanced by elastic restoring forces of the polymer network. However, the situation is more complex when the network is swollen with fluid, because the fluid may separate from the network at the contact line. Here we study the fluid separation and network deformation at the contact line of a soft polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) network, swollen with silicone oil. By controlling both the degrees of crosslinking and swelling, we find that more fluid separates from the network with increasing swelling. Above a certain swelling, network deformation decreases while fluid separation increases, demonstrating synergy between network deformation and fluid separation. When the PDMS network is swollen with a fluid having a negative spreading parameter, such as hexadecane, no fluid separation is observed. A simple balance of interfacial, elastic, and mixing energies can describe this fluid separation behavior. Our results reveal that a swelling fluid, commonly found in soft networks, plays a critical role in a wetting ridge.

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  8. null (Ed.)

    Robot-assisted healthcare could help alleviate the shortage of nursing staff in hospitals and is a potential solution to assist with safe patient handling and mobility. In an attempt to off-load some of the physically-demanding tasks and automate mundane duties of overburdened nurses, we have developed the Adaptive Robotic Nursing Assistant (ARNA), which is a custom-built omnidirectional mobile platform with a 6-DoF robotic manipulator and a force sensitive walking handlebar. In this paper, we present a robot-specific neuroadaptive controller (NAC) for ARNA’s mobile base that employs online learning to estimate the robot’s unknown dynamic model and nonlinearities. This control scheme relies on an inner-loop torque controller and features convergence with Lyapunov stability guarantees. The NAC forces the robot to emulate a mechanical system with prescribed admittance characteristics during patient walking exercises and bed moving tasks. The proposed admittance controller is implemented on a model of the robot in a Gazebo-ROS simulation environment, and its effectiveness is investigated in terms of online learning of robot dynamics as well as sensitivity to payload variations.

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  9. Abstract

    Radiation therapy is one of the most prevalent procedures for cancer treatment, but the risks of malignancies induced by peripheral beam in healthy tissues surrounding the target is high. Therefore, being able to accurately measure the exposure dose is a critical aspect of patient care. Here a radiation detector based on an organic field‐effect transistor (RAD‐OFET) is introduced, an in vivo dosimeter that can be placed directly on a patient's skin to validate in real time the dose being delivered and ensure that for nearby regions an acceptable level of low dose is being received. This device reduces the errors faced by current technologies in approximating the dose profile in a patient's body, is sensitive for doses relevant to radiation treatment procedures, and robust when incorporated into conformal large‐area electronics. A model is proposed to describe the operation of RAD‐OFETs, based on the interplay between charge photogeneration and trapping.

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  10. Abstract This paper describes the fabrication of cicada-wing-inspired antimicrobial surfaces using Glancing Angle Deposition (GLAD). From the study of an annual cicada ( Neotibicen Canicularis , also known as dog-day cicada) in North America, it is found that the cicada wing surfaces are composed of unique three-dimensional (3D) nanofeature arrays, which grant them extraordinary properties including antimicrobial (antifouling) and antireflective. However, the morphology of these 3D nanostructures imposes challenges in artificially synthesizing the structures by utilizing and scaling up the template area from nature. From the perspective of circumventing the difficulties of creating 3D nanofeature arrays with top-down nanofabrication techniques, this paper introduces a nanofabrication process that combines bottom-up steps: self-assembled nanospheres are used as the bases of the features, while sub-100 nm pillars are grown on top of the bases by GLAD. Scanning electron micrographs show the resemblance of the synthesized cicada wing mimicry samples to the actual cicada wings, both quantitatively and qualitatively. The synthetic mimicry samples are hydrophobic with a water contact angle of 125˚. Finally, the antimicrobial properties of the mimicries are validated by showing flat growth curves of Escherichia coli ( E. coli ) and by direct observation under scanning electron microscopy (SEM). The process is potentially suitable for large-area antimicrobial applications in food and biomedical industries. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available December 1, 2024