The Systems Integration Group is part of the Intelligent Systems Division in the Manufacturing Engineering Laboratory (MEL) at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). The group has a major thrust in nanomanufacturing and nanorobotics, but also works on robot safety and on performance evaluation of safety systems for vehicles traveling on the nation’s highways. Nanomanufacturing work includes developing control and positioning systems for nanoscale measurements and standards and for manipulation, and developing ways of bridging the gap between the micro/nano manufacturing tools and the macro scale world. Nanorobotics investigates the underlying physics of NEMS sensors and conducts metrology research primarily on measurements of position and force. Robot safety addresses human-robot collaboration and safeguarding people working in an environment containing robots and autonomous guided vehicles.
Researchers are experimenting with different techniques for the design and fabrication of micro magnets and micro coils. These devices can be used as metrology sensors and for non-contact actuation of moving micro- and nano-robotic mechanisms. Most of these moving robotic mechanisms are so small and structurally weak that it is very difficult to attach electric wires for the transmission of power, control, and feedback signals, so non contact operation is preferable. Electrostatic non-contact actuators can be used, but they require high voltage, which is a safety hazard and requires difficult insulation. Experiments are being conducted with E-beam evaporation and micro-electroplating for the fabrication of our electromagnetic devices. For example, prototype MEMS nanopositioners are actuated by electromagnetic and thermal actuators. The electromagnetic actuators use a stationary planar electric coil and a moving stage coated with ferromagnetic material or a magnetic material. Figure 1 shows two different samples of rectangular planar copper coils. Figure 2 shows an interferometric scan microscope image of a portion of these coils.
Craig Schlenoff, Acting Group Leader
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