AbstractA Swiss research institute has invented a wireless actuation method for sub-mm micro motors based on a very low magnetic field strength. The micro motors can be used as actuators, end effectors or manipulators and have potential for micro robots in medical-, inspection- and remote sensing applications. Tedious activities or activities in a separate space can be greatly improved, as they can operate simultaneously. Type of collaboration sought: license agreement and/or technical cooperation.
Many wireless sub-mm size microrobots have been proposed but few working devices have been developed due to challenges regarding propulsion, power transmission, wireless actuators, and control of individual actuators.
A new class of wireless actuators was developed at a Swiss research institute that combines power and control in the same signal, creating an effective, scalable and usable wireless micro actuator.
Several strategies for wireless motors exist, including electrostatic fields, laser driven thermal impact, absorption and conversion of optical energy, transmission of energy through vibration, etc.
Many of these strategies are limited to engineered environments, require dangerous voltages, do not scale well to sub-mm size, or require optical access and exposure and are, thus, quite limited in their application. The use of magnetic fields for wireless actuation is quite popular due to high forces that can be generated over a distance by external fields. By combining the force and distance advantages of magnetism with the behavior of resonant systems, a new type of actuator was developed.
The invention is a new class of wireless micro devices (Fig. 1A: the micro actuator in relation to a fruit fly and 1B: Close up of the micro actuator, the actual size is 300 x 300 x 70 µm) that can be used in a variety of industrial or medical areas. It has been demonstrated as power source and propulsion for wireless sub-mm robot platforms.
Early stage applications focus on wireless end effectors or manipulators, e.g. to harvest protein crystals, a tedious process that is greatly improved with the presented micro manipulator.
Future applications will focus on smaller designs to be used as micro actuators on microrobots. These may allow the development of a new field of medical microrobots capable of navigating through the body and performing specific tasks.
- A new class of wireless sub-mm micro devices
- Operates without wires, circuitry, batteries or antenna
- Wireless motor with high force mechanical energy output (vibration, movement, opening, closing, etc.)
- Operates with a very low magnetic field strength (only 50 times the earth’s magnetic field)
- Operates at a natural resonant frequency
- Multiple micro motors can operate simultaneously
- Low costs, disposable