Clark School Home UMD

ISR News Story

NanoCenter members create tiny inchworm motor with flexible arms

Flexible arms help the shuttle (center) of this nanomotor move.
Flexible arms help the shuttle (center) of this nanomotor move.

A tiny creeping motor is easy to manufacture and stronger than ever

 

Just as a person would grab and pull a rope hand over hand, a new micromechanical motor developed at the University of Maryland pulls a tiny silicon beam with enough force to lift a toothpick.

Assistant Professor Sarah Bergbreiter (ME/ISR) and her student Ivan Penskiy of the University of Maryland, College Park, developed an inchworm motor that is simple to manufacture and provides significantly greater force than similar efforts. Flexible arms are used to alternately grab and pull a tiny silicon beam thousands of times per second, moving only a couple micrometers at a time. This action is similar to that used in muscle. These motors can be used to someday power a tiny insect-sized robot or provide autofocus and zoom in a smartphone camera.

The motor is also very efficient due to its use of electrostatic actuation, in which two tiny silicon plates are pulled toward each other when a voltage is applied. Penksiy and Bergbreiter optimized the layout of these plates along with the flexible arms that they drive to improve efficiency in addition to force output. The researchers made the device in the University of Maryland’s Fab Lab, where only a single etch was required to pattern these plates and flexible arms on a silicon chip.

The researchers will next work on integrating this motor with mechanical structures like legs along with tiny power supplies for integrated microrobots. 

January 10, 2013


Prev   Next

 

 

"These motors can be used to someday power a tiny insect-sized robot or provide autofocus and zoom in a smartphone camera." -- Ivan Penskiy, UMD Engineer
 

Current Headlines

Flocks and Form

Tsiropoulou to join University of New Mexico faculty

Qu Gives Keynote at WOCC 2017

Wood filter removes toxic dye from water

Prof. Alireza Khaligh to receive Outstanding Young Alumnus Award from Illinois Tech

Simon is co-editor of new Springer auditory research book

New Class Inducted into Order of the Engineer

Northrop Grumman renews as an ISR associate partner for third consecutive year

Students of Khaligh, Wu win China Scholarship Council awards

ECE Graduate Student Team, led by Prof. Khaligh, Wins 3rd place in the Allegheny Region Cleantech University Prize (CUP) Collegiate Competition 

News Resources

Return to Newsroom

Search News

Archived News

Events Resources

Events Calendar