Nowadays, the bottleneck of the fabrication of hybrid microsystems is the assembling phase of microscopic components.
Indeed, at microlevel, as a result of the high surface to volume ratio, superficial forces become dominant with respect to
other ones and the development of new handling techniques is strongly required. In this context, innovative handling
systems have been studied at ITIA. The possibilitiy of controlling and exploiting the capillary force has been investigated
and an original handling system, based on capillary force, has been conceived. The theoretical studies led to the
development of a first prototype of a gripper with variable curvature and the results obtained from this prototype
encouraged the development of a smaller prototype, able to manipulate objects with weight of the order of milligrams.
Regarding the actuation system of such a gripper, smart materials seemed to be required. Specifically, a novel
configuration based on electroactive polymers (EAP) has been conceived. A feasibility study to evaluate their
functionality and performances, as actuation system, has been carried out and the results are presented in this paper.