|Jack Luo and Dr Yong Qing Fu
'Nanohand and its captured ball'
Dr. Jack Luo a senior research associate and Dr.Yong Qing Fu a research associate working for Professor Bill Milne, in the Electrical Engineering Division, have developed this microgripper using a polymer, metal and Diamond-Like Carbon (DLC) trilayer structure. The photo was taken using a scanning electron microscope and shows a ball only ~65µm across captured in the cage of the microgripper. This device is suitable for trapping and holding biological specimens such as cells without applying a force directly on it, thus avoiding potential damage to the cell. The compressively stressed DLC layer expands once the structure is released from the substrate, and forms a closed microcage. A pulsed current of <10mA with duration of milliseconds can be applied to generate a thermal stress on the polymer side, and force the microcage to open. The power to open the microcage is less than 10mW. The advantage of a pulsed operation is to keep the device temperature lower, thus they can be used for biological applications. This particular device has a diameter of ~110µm, but Jack and Yong Qing have made devices ranging from 30 to 200µm in diameter. The research was sponsored by The Cambridge-MIT Institute (CMI).