We present and compare new heat-activated bonding methods for use in modular micro-robotic systems. Such modular systems prove to provide on-demand creation of arbitrary micro-scale physical shapes in remote inaccessible spaces. The bonding methods presented here quickly form strong bonds through the use of thermoplastic or solder binding sites integrated into each module face, addressing problems of assembly strength and electrical conductivity. The strength of the bonds for each method are presented for different module styles, bonding conditions and breaking conditions in a destructive test, and are compared with previous magnetic bonding methods. For 80 micrometer modules, bond strengths of up to 500 mN are observed with thermoplastic bonds, which indicates that the assemblies could be potentially used in high-force structural applications of programmable matter, microfluidic channels or healthcare. Using previously-developed micro-robot addressing methods, magnetically-functionalized modules are moved remotely for assembly using a magnetic coil system. In this way, a set of up to nine modules are remotely assembled one-by-one into an arbitrary shape capable of locomotion to demonstrate the scalability and strength of the system.
This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.
Buy single article
Instant unlimited access to the full article PDF.
Price includes VAT for USA
Subscribe to journal
Immediate online access to all issues from 2019. Subscription will auto renew annually.
This is the net price. Taxes to be calculated in checkout.
Diller E, Floyd S, Pawashe C, Sitti M (2012) Control of multiple heterogeneous magnetic microrobots in two dimensions on nonspecialized surfaces. IEEE Trans Robot 28(1):172–182
Diller E, Giltinan J, Sitti M (2013) Independent control of multiple magnetic microrobots in three dimensions. Int J Robot Res 32(5):614–631
Diller E, Miyashita S, Sitti M (2012) Magnetic hysteresis for multi-state addressable magnetic microrobotic control. In: International conference on intelligent robots and systems, pp 2325–2331
Diller E, Miyashita S, Sitti M (2012) Remotely addressable magnetic composite micropumps. RSC Advances 2(9):3850–3856
Diller E, Pawashe C, Floyd S, Sitti M (2011) Assembly and disassembly of magnetic mobile micro-robots towards deterministic 2-D reconfigurable micro-systems. Int J Robot Res 30(14):1667–1680
Diller E, Zhang N, Sitti M (2013) Bonding methods for modular micro-robotic assemblies. In: International conference on robotics and automation, pp 2573–2578
Donald BR, Levey CG, Paprotny I, Rus D (2013) Planning and control for microassembly of structures composed of stress-engineered MEMS microrobots. Int J Robot Res 32(2):218–246
Gilpin K, Knaian A, Rus D (2010) Robot pebbles: one centimeter modules for programmable matter through self-disassembly. In: International conference on robotics and automation, pp 2485–2492
Hergt R, Dutz S (2007) Magnetic particle hyperthermia-biophysical limitations of a visionary tumour therapy. J Magn Magn Mater 311(1):187–192
Kummer M, Abbott J, Kratochvil B, Borer R, Sengul A, Nelson B (2010) Octomag: an electromagnetic system for 5-DOF wireless micromanipulation. IEEE Trans Robot 26(6):1006–1017
Mastrangeli M, Abbasi S, Varel C, Van Hoof C, Celis JP, Böhringer KF (2009) Self-assembly from milli- to nanoscales: methods and applications. J Micromech Microeng 19(8):083,001
Meeker D, Maslen E, Ritter R, Creighton F (1996) Optimal realization of arbitrary forces in a magnetic stereotaxis system. IEEE Trans Magn 32(2):320–328
Miyashita S, Diller E, Sitti M (2013) Two-dimensional magnetic micro-module reconfigurations based on inter-modular interactions. Int J Robot Res 32(5):591–613
Nelson BJ, Kaliakatsos IK, Abbott JJ (2010) Microrobots for minimally invasive medicine. Annu Rev Biomed Eng 12:55–85
Pawashe C, Floyd S, Sitti M (2009) Modeling and experimental characterization of an untethered magnetic micro-robot. Int J Robot Res 28(8):1077–1094
Rus D, Vona M (2001) Crystalline robots: self-reconfiguration with compressible unit modules. Auton Robot 10(1):107–124
Tabatabaei SN, Lapointe J, Martel S (2011) Shrinkable hydrogel-based magnetic microrobots for interventions in the vascular network. Adv Robot 25(8):1049–1067
Takeuchi M, Nakajima M, Kojima M, Fukuda T (2013) Handling of micro objects using phase transition of thermoresponsive polymer. J Micro-Bio Robot 8(2):53–64
Tolley MT, Krishnan M, Erickson D, Lipson H (2008) Dynamically programmable fluidic assembly. Appl Phys Lett 93(25):254,105
Tolley MT, Lipson H (2011) On-line assembly planning for stochastically reconfigurable systems. Int J Robot Res 30:1566–1584
White PJ, Yim M (2007) Scalable modular self-reconfigurable robots using external actuation. In: International conference on intelligent robots and systems, pp 2773–2778
White PJ, Yim M (2009) Reliable external actuation for full reachability in robotic modular self-reconfiguration. Int J Robot Res 29(5):598–612
Ye Z, Diller E, Sitti M (2012) Micro-manipulation using rotational fluid flows induced by remote magnetic micro-manipulators. J Appl Phys 112(6):064,912
Yim M, Shen WM, Salemi B, Rus D, Moll M, Lipson H, Klavins E, Chirikjian GS (2007) Modular self-reconfigurable robot systems. IEEE Robot Autom Mag 14(1):43–52
Yoshida E, Murata S, Kokaji S, Tomita K, Kurokawa H (2001) Micro self-reconfigurable modular robot using shape memory alloy. J Robot Mechatron 13:212–219
Zykov V, Mytilinaios E, Adams B, Lipson H (2005) Robotics: self-reproducing machines. Nature 435(7039):163–164
The authors thank Shuhei Miyashita and all members of the NanoRobotics Lab for their assistance and input on this research. They also thank Andrew Gamble for assistance using the magnetometry equipment.
Electronic supplementary material
Below is the link to the electronic supplementary material.
About this article
Cite this article
Diller, E., Zhang, N. & Sitti, M. Modular micro-robotic assembly through magnetic actuation and thermal bonding. J Micro-Bio Robot 8, 121–131 (2013) doi:10.1007/s12213-013-0071-7
- Remote actuation