Friday, May 3, 2013

Construction and actuation of a microscopic gear assembly formed using optical tweezers

Jung-Dae Kim and Yong-Gu Lee
The assembly of micrometer-sized parts is an important manufacturing process; any development in it could potentially change the current manufacturing practices for micrometer-scale devices. Due to the lack of reliable microassembly techniques, these devices are often manufactured using silicon, which includes etching and depositions with little use of assembly processes. The result is the requirement of specialized manufacturing conditions with hazardous byproducts and limited applications where only simple mechanisms are allowed. Optical tweezers are non-contact type manipulators that are very suitable for assembling microparts and solve one of the most difficult problems for microassembly, which is the sticking of the physical manipulator to the micropart. Although contact type manipulators can be surface modified to be non-sticky, this involves extra preprocessing—optical tweezers do not require such additional efforts. The weakness of using optical tweezers is that the permanent assembly of parts is not possible as only very small forces can be applied. We introduce an advanced microassembly environment with the combined use of optical tweezers and a motorized microtip, where the former is used to position two parts and the latter is used to introduce deformation in the parts so that they form a strongly fitted assembly.
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