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11 June 2014 Characterization of an acoustic actuation mechanism for robotic propulsion in low Reynolds number environments
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With the end goal of medical applications such as non-invasive surgery and targeted drug delivery, an acoustically driven resonant structure is proposed for microrobotic propulsion. At the proposed scale, the low Reynolds number environment requires non-reciprocal motion from the robotic structure for propulsion; thus, a “flapper” with multiple, flexible joints, has been designed to produce excitation modes that involve the necessary flagella-like bending for non-reciprocal motion. The key design aspect of the flapper structure involves a very thin joint that allows bending in one (vertical) direction, but not the opposing direction. This allows for the second mass and joint to bend in a manner similar to a dolphin’s “kick” at the bottom of their stroke, resulting in forward thrust. A 130 mm x 50 mm x 0.2 mm prototype of a swimming robot that utilizes the flapper was fabricated out of acrylic using a laser cutter. The robot was tested in water and in a water-glycerine solution designed to mimic microscale fluid conditions. The robot exhibited forward propulsion when excited by an underwater speaker at its resonance mode, with velocities up to 2.5 mm/s. The robot also displayed frequency selectivity, leading to the possibility of exploring a steering mechanism with alternatively tuned flappers. Additional tests were conducted with a robot at a reduced size scale.
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Christopher House, Jenelle Armstrong, John Burkhardt, and Samara Firebaugh "Characterization of an acoustic actuation mechanism for robotic propulsion in low Reynolds number environments", Proc. SPIE 9083, Micro- and Nanotechnology Sensors, Systems, and Applications VI, 90832R (11 June 2014);

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