3D Printed Microrobot Controlled by Optical Tweezers

November 3,2017

Scientists at the Massey University and the Hamlyn Centre for Robotics Surgery, Imperial College London recently developed a microrobot that moves completely freely and is manipulated by laser light. The robot consists of two separated pieces that have minimal contact area: a base plate and a mobile head. The design was optimized with only two contact points between the components with the intention to lessen the strong adhesion forces at the nano- and microscale and to avoid stickiness between them.

In this study, Nanoscribe’s two-photon polymerization technology was the key to manufacture the mechanism with fine features. It was used for investigating different designs and for optimizing the optical manipulation of the robot’s motion. The microrobot was directly 3D printed without the need of further assembly. In order to investigate its motion, researchers used optical tweezers to control the robot’s components. As a result, the microrobot can rotate in and out of plane without being attached to a substrate. This type of untethered optically controlled microrobots could be potentially used in complex biomedical applications where control in 3D space is required, such as handling of single cells and biological tissue.

Read more in the publication: Laser-Printing and 3D Optical-Control of Untethered Microrobots