Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation


Document Type

Master's Thesis

Degree Name



Electrical and Computer Engineering

Degree Program

Electrical Engineering, MS

Committee Chair

Popa, Dan

Committee Co-Chair (if applicable)

McNamara, Shamus

Committee Member

McNamara, Shamus

Committee Member

Harnett, Cindy

Author's Keywords

microrobot; mcirosystem; microassembly; skin sensor; control system


Microsystems have been investigated with renewed interest for the last three decades because of the emerging development of microelectromechanical system (MEMS) technology and the advancement of nanotechnology. The applications of microrobots and distributed sensors have the potential to revolutionize micro and nano manufacturing and have other important health applications for drug delivery and minimal invasive surgery. A class of microrobots studied in this thesis, such as the Solid Articulated Four Axis Microrobot (sAFAM) are driven by MEMS actuators, transmissions, and end-effectors realized by 3-Dimensional MEMS assembly. Another class of microrobots studied here, like those competing in the annual IEEE Mobile Microrobot Challenge event (MMC) are untethered and driven by external fields, such as magnetic fields generated by a focused permanent magnet. A third class of microsystems studied in this thesis includes distributed MEMS pressure sensors for robotic skin applications that are manufactured in the cleanroom and packaged in our lab.

In this thesis, we discuss typical challenges associated with the fabrication, robotic assembly and packaging of these microsystems. For sAFAM we discuss challenges arising from pick and place manipulation under microscopic closed-loop control, as well as bonding and attachment of silicon MEMS microparts. For MMC, we discuss challenges arising from cooperative manipulation of microparts that advance the capabilities of magnetic micro-agents. Custom microrobotic hardware configured and demonstrated during this research (such as the NeXus microassembly station) include micro-positioners, microscopes, and controllers driven via LabVIEW. Finally, we also discuss challenges arising in distributed sensor manufacturing. We describe sensor fabrication steps using clean-room techniques on Kapton flexible substrates, and present results of lamination, interconnection and testing of such sensors are presented.