Nanotechnology Now

Our NanoNews Digest Sponsors



Heifer International

Wikipedia Affiliate Button


android tablet pc

Home > Press > Tiny robots get a grip on nanotubes

Abstract:
How do you handle the tiny components needed for constructing nanoscale devices? A European consortium has built two microrobotic demonstrators that can automatically pick up and install carbon nanotubes thousands of times thinner than a human hair.

Carbon nanotubes, rolled up sheets of carbon only a few tens of nanometres in diameter, could become an essential part of the nanotechnologist's construction kit. But there is a problem: how can you handle objects which are so thin that they cannot be seen at all with a normal optical microscope?

Tiny robots get a grip on nanotubes

Europe | Posted on August 17th, 2009

"The handling and characterisation of these objects has become more and more important in materials science and nanotechnology," says Volkmar Eichhorn of the University of Oldenburg and its associated institute, OFFIS. "They have a huge application potential in various products."

One solution, developed by the EU-funded NanoHand project, is to use mobile microrobots equipped with delicate handling tools. NanoHand builds on the work of ROBOSEM, an earlier EU project that developed the basic technologies that are now being put into effect.

The robots, about two centimetres in size, work inside a scanning electron microscope where their activities can be followed by an observer. "The whole set-up is integrated into the vacuum chamber of the microscope," Eichhorn explains. "There is a glass plate where these mobile microrobots can walk around."
Microgrippers

Each robot has a ‘microgripper' that can make precise and delicate movements. It works on an electrothermal principle to open and close the jaws, much like a pair of tweezers.

The jaws open to about 2 micrometres and can pick up objects less than 100 nanometres in size. "[It is] really able to grip micro or even nano objects," Eichhorn says. "We have handled objects down to tens of nanometres."

At that scale, the intermolecular forces between objects are stronger than gravity. Once a nanotube has been picked up it will stick to the jaws of the gripper and cannot easily be dropped into position. The team have had to develop novel ‘pick-and-place' techniques to get around this problem.

One approach is to glue the tube in its final position using electron beam-induced deposition. Another is to use geometrical principles to ensure that the intermolecular forces pulling the tube towards its intended location are greater than those holding it in the jaws of the gripper.

"Worldwide, we are the first project that has really realised the automated microgripper-based pick-and-place experiments," Eichhorn notes. "The new thing is the high accuracy and the small scale of the objects - in the range of tens or hundreds of nanometres - and the excellent control and software architecture being built around this whole set-up facilitating a high degree of automation."
Better microscope

An early success of the project was to improve the performance of an atomic force microscope, a workhorse of nanotechnology.

The microscope ‘feels' a surface by dragging a fine probe over it. Individual atoms can be sensed and a picture built up. But conventional probes have a pyramid-shaped tip which cannot follow the hills and valleys of deeply corrugated surfaces. The NanoHand team used their microrobots to automatically pick up a carbon nanotube and attach it to the tip, so greatly improving the probe's ability to sense deep valleys.

This achievement was made with the ‘NanoLab' demonstrator, designed for use in experimental laboratory situations.

In parallel, the industrial partners have developed a more robust ‘NanoFab' demonstrator, better suited to the needs of industry. They are exploring how the technology could be used for rapid prototyping of new designs for microchips. One idea is to use carbon nanotubes as ‘interconnects', the fine wires that make the electrical connections to a chip. Because of their high electrical conductivity, carbon nanotubes dissipate less heat than copper and allow circuits to be packed more densely.

This application is of particular interest to STMicroelectronics, one of the project partners and a heavyweight maker of microchips. "They would like to have a nanorobotic system where they can do fast and rapid characterisation of these devices," says Eichhorn. "Up to now, it was a manual, teleoperated characterisation which was very time consuming."
Early exploitation

Many other industrial applications are possible, including novel devices that could not be constructed any other way. Applications in composite materials, displays and new kinds of transistors are all being talked about.

Other groups are working on methods of handling nanotubes, especially in the USA, Japan and China, but the NanoHand system of microrobots and microgrippers is proving effective and reliable. "It's very promising for nanotechnology applications," says Eichhorn.

From the start, the project has been run with commercialisation in mind and the first product is already on the market. Two of the industrial partners, Tescan and Klocke Nanotechnik, are collaborating to sell a scanning electron microscope equipped with a nanopositioning system based on NanoHand technology.

The Technical University of Denmark (DTU Nanotech) intends to set up a spin-off to market the microgrippers and the Ecoles Polytechniques Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) is seeking to further develop the microrobots to the point where they can be commercialised.

NanoHand received funding from the ICT strand of the EU's Sixth Framework Programme for research.

####

For more information, please click here

Copyright © ITC Results

If you have a comment, please Contact us.

Issuers of news releases, not 7th Wave, Inc. or Nanotechnology Now, are solely responsible for the accuracy of the content.

Bookmark:
Delicious Digg Newsvine Google Yahoo Reddit Magnoliacom Furl Facebook

Related Links

Video

Related News Press

News and information

New research project supports internationalisation in nano-research: Launch of new “Baltic Sea Network” November 22nd, 2014

3rd Iran-Proposed Nano Standard Approved by International Standard Organization November 22nd, 2014

NMTI announces breakthrough solutions for HAMR nanoantenna for next-generation ultra-high density magnetic storage November 21st, 2014

Canatu Launches CNB In-Mold Film for Transparent Touch on 3D Surfaces –in Cars, Household Appliances, Wearables, Portables November 20th, 2014

Videos/Movies

Purdue 3-D printing innovation capable of making stronger, lighter metal works for auto, aerospace industries November 20th, 2014

New way to move atomically thin semiconductors for use in flexible devices November 13th, 2014

A billion holes can make a battery November 10th, 2014

Manipulating complex molecules by hand: New method in scanning probe microscopy: Jülich researchers create a word using 47 molecules November 6th, 2014

Molecular Nanotechnology

Researchers discern the shapes of high-order Brownian motions November 17th, 2014

Manipulating complex molecules by hand: New method in scanning probe microscopy: Jülich researchers create a word using 47 molecules November 6th, 2014

Measuring nano-vibrations November 5th, 2014

'Nanomotor lithography' answers call for affordable, simpler device manufacturing October 31st, 2014

Nanotubes/Buckyballs

Tesla NanoCoatings Increasing Use of SouthWest NanoTechnologies Carbon Nanotubes (CNTs) for its Infrastructure Coatings and Paints: High Quality SMW™ Specialty Multi-wall Carbon Nanotubes Incorporated into Teslan®-brand coatings used by Transportation, Oil and Gas Companies November 19th, 2014

Graphene/nanotube hybrid benefits flexible solar cells: Rice University labs create novel electrode for dye-sensitized cells November 17th, 2014

SouthWest NanoTechnologies to Demonstrate 3D Capacitive Touch Sensor Featuring Transparent, Thermoformed Carbon Nanotube Ink at Printed Electronics USA 2014 (Booth J25) -- “Conductive and Semiconducting Single-Wall Carbon Nanotube Inks” will be Topic of Company Presentation November 10th, 2014

Neural Canals Produced in Iran for Recovery of Sciatica Nerve November 8th, 2014

Discoveries

NMTI announces breakthrough solutions for HAMR nanoantenna for next-generation ultra-high density magnetic storage November 21st, 2014

UO-industry collaboration points to improved nanomaterials: University of Oregon microscope puts spotlight on the surface structure of quantum dots for designing new solar devices November 20th, 2014

Silver Nanoparticles Produced in Iran from Forest Plants Extract November 20th, 2014

Nano Sorbents Able to Remove Pollutions Caused by Oil Derivatives November 20th, 2014

Materials/Metamaterials

Sustainable Nanotechnologies Project November 20th, 2014

Total Nanofiber Solutions Company FibeRio® Launches The Fiber Engine® FX Series Systems with 10X Increase in Output November 18th, 2014

Nanocomposites Strengthen Bone Implants November 13th, 2014

Production of Magnetic Nanoparticles with New Structures in Iran November 13th, 2014

Announcements

New research project supports internationalisation in nano-research: Launch of new “Baltic Sea Network” November 22nd, 2014

3rd Iran-Proposed Nano Standard Approved by International Standard Organization November 22nd, 2014

NMTI announces breakthrough solutions for HAMR nanoantenna for next-generation ultra-high density magnetic storage November 21st, 2014

Nano Sorbents Able to Remove Pollutions Caused by Oil Derivatives November 20th, 2014

Tools

Leica Microsystems Presents Universal Hybrid Detector for Single Molecule Detection and Imaging at SfN and ASCB: Leica HyD SMD - the Optimal Detector for Precise and Reliable SMD data November 20th, 2014

Nanometrics Announces Upcoming Investor Events November 19th, 2014

Two sensors in one: Nanoparticles that enable both MRI and fluorescent imaging could monitor cancer, other diseases November 18th, 2014

Field-emission plug-and-play solution for microwave electron guns: To simplify the electron emission mechanism involved in microwave electron guns, a team of researchers has created and demonstrated a field-emission plug-and-play solution based on ultrananocrystalline diamond November 18th, 2014

NanoNews-Digest
The latest news from around the world, FREE




  Premium Products
NanoNews-Custom
Only the news you want to read!
 Learn More
NanoTech-Transfer
University Technology Transfer & Patents
 Learn More
NanoStrategies
Full-service, expert consulting
 Learn More












ASP
Nanotechnology Now Featured Books




NNN

The Hunger Project







© Copyright 1999-2014 7th Wave, Inc. All Rights Reserved PRIVACY POLICY :: CONTACT US :: STATS :: SITE MAP :: ADVERTISE