Thermo-Mechanical Metamaterials: Towards Stimuli Responsive Micro-Robotics

by Ji Qingxiang, Femto-st, CNRS, Université de Franche-Comté (UFC)

Metamaterials have attracted large scientific interest as promising candidates to break some fundamental bound on materials properties and to realize some dreaming devices such as the invisibility cloaks or the perfect flat lenses based on negative refraction.

However, the bounds appeared to be more fundamental and the field has extended to some coupled physical phenomena where one physics acts as the driving force. They are called stimuli-responsive metamaterials and have been demonstrated in many combinations like thermoelastic, magneto-optics, piezo-electric etc. In this paper, we show the possibility of printing the basic elements of a 3 axis microrobot using single-step lithography.

We divide the setup into two main blocks: the rotational unit and the translational one. Both are optimized and designed using the principle of thermo-elastic bilayer plate which bends under change of temperature. Samples were fabricated in one step using a single polymer but with two different writing pawer making each part mechanically different.

We show numerical and experimental demonstration in a good agreement.


What drives you?
We aim, in this presentation, to bring thermoelastic metamaterials for micro-robots to real life. It is also a great application of 3D printing technology.

Why should the delegate attend your presentation?
We design thermoelastic metamaterials for use as actuators for soft micro-robots. The designed system is controlled by heat sources and can effectively fullfill the pick-and -place task of robots. It is an kind of novel application of mehcanical metamaterials.

What emerging technologies/trends do you see as having the greatest potential in the short and long run?
Artificial Intelligence.

What kind of impact do you expect them to have?
I expect the artificial intelligence to combine with different technology and become more depth in machine learning, data processing and so on, faciliating people’s daily lives.

What are the barriers that might stand in the way?
People should view it as an opportunity but not a threat. Some basic theories and technology need further improvement to support its development.

About Femto-st, CNRS

The FEMTO-ST Institute “Franche-Comté Electronics Mechanics Thermal Science and Optics – Sciences and Technologies”, is a joint research institution, which is under the quadruple authority of the Université de Franche-Comté (UFC), the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS), the Ecole Nationale Supérieure de Mécanique et Microtechniques (ENSMM) and the Université de
Technologie Belfort-Montbéliard (UTBM).

Today, in FEMTO-ST’s scientific departments and general services, we count a total staff of more than 700.

The Institute has five different laboratories of unique fields including: mechanics, optics and telecommunications, electronics, time-frequency, energetics and fluidics.

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