Soft/Wet microrobotics

Presentation

Soft/Wet microrobotics researches are developed along 3 axis: fluidic or capillary microrobotics (based on physics of fluids),  soft microrobotics (based on elasticity and materials) and microfabrication. Our work is devoted to answering scientific questions relate to physics of fluids and materials. Our methods relate to mechanical engineering: modelling and simulation, manufacturing (down to 200nm), design, dynamics and control, experimental force measurement (down to 1nN). The applications fields cover micromanipulation, drug delivery, medical devices, industrial micro-assembly.

Building on advances in miniaturization and soft matter, surface tension effects are a major key to the development of soft/fluidic microrobotics. Capillary effects benefit from scaling, and surface tension of liquid provides structural properties, actuation, adhesion, confinement and compliance, which are all functions necessary in micro and nanosystems. Various applications are under development: microfluidic and LOC devices, soft gripping and manipulation of particles, colloidal and interfacial assemblies, fluidic/droplet mechatronics. The capillary action is ubiquitous in drops, bubbles and menisci, opening a broad spectrum of technological solutions and scientific investigations. 

Identified grand challenges to the emergence of fluidic microrobotics include speeding up the process (how to master the dynamics of surface tension effects?), the mastering of the hysteresis arising from wetting and evaporation, the improvement of dispensing and handling of tiny droplets, to develop a mechatronics approach for the control of surface tension effects.

Our microfabrication facilities involve world-class equipment such as Nanoscribe Photonics GT, as well as simple 3D printers for rapid prototyping. These pieces of equipment are operated among the MicroMilli platform.

Contact: Pierre Lambert (pierre.lambert@ulb.ac.be)

Researchers

Selected publications

Piñan Basualdo, F.N., Bolopion, A., Gauthier, M., Lambert, P. A microrobotic platform actuated by thermocapillary flows for manipulation at the air-water interface. Science Robotics, 6 (52), art. no. eabd3557. 2021

Chafaï, A., Vitry, Y., Dehaeck, S., Gallaire, F., Scheid, B., Colinet, P., Lambert, P. Two-dimensional modelling of transient capillary driven damped micro-oscillations and self-alignment of objects in microassembly. Journal of Fluid Mechanics. 2021

Lehmann, O., Rauch, J.-Y., Vitry, Y., Pinsard, T., Lambert, P., Gauthier, M. Miniaturized Robotics: The Smallest Camera Operator Bot Pays Tribute to David Bowie. IEEE Robotics and Automation Magazine, 27(3), 22-28. 2020

Decroly, G., Mertens, B., Lambert, P., Delchambre, A. Design, characterization and optimization of a soft fluidic actuator for minimally invasive surgery. International Journal of Computer Assisted Radiology and Surgery, 15, 333-340. 2020

Loyez, M., Larrieu, J.-C., Chevineau, S., Remmelink, M., Leduc, D., Bondue, B., Lambert, P., Devière, J., Wattiez, R., Caucheteur, C. In situ cancer diagnosis through online plasmonics. Biosensors and Bioelectronics, 131, 104-112. 2019 

Dehaeck, S., Cavaiani, M., Chafai, A., Tourtit, Y., Vitry, Y., Lambert, P. Hybrid two-scale fabrication of sub-millimetric capillary grippers. Micromachines, 10(4), art. no. 224. 2019

Taniguchi, T., Blanc, L., Asahi, T., Koshima, H., Lambert, P. Statistical modeling of photo-bending actuation of hybrid silicones mixed with Azobenzene Powder. Actuators, 8(4), art. no. 68. 2019

Dehaeck, S., Scheid, B., & Lambert, P. Adaptive stitching for meso-scale printing with two-photon lithography. Additive Manufacturing, 21, 589-597. 2018

Gernay, S.M., Labousse, S., Lambert, P., Compère, P., & Gilet, T. Multi-scale tarsal adhesion kinematics of freely-walking dock beetles. Journal of the Royal Society Interface, 14 (136), art. no. 20170493. 2017 

Blanc, L., Delchambre, A., & Lambert, P. Flexible medical devices: Review of controllable stiffness solutions. Actuators, 6(3), art. no. 23. 2017 

Ribaut, C., Loyez, M., Larrieu, J.-C., Chevineau, S., Lambert, P., Remmelink, M., Wattiez, R., & Caucheteur, C. Cancer biomarker sensing using packaged plasmonic optical fiber gratings: Towards in vivo diagnosis. Biosensors and Bioelectronics, 92, 449-456. 2017

Mallea, R.T., Bolopion, A., Beugnot, J.-C., Lambert, P., & Gauthier, M. Laser-Induced thermocapillary convective flows: A new approach for noncontact actuation at microscale at the fluid/gas interface. IEEE/ASME Transactions on Mechatronics, 22(2), 693-704. 2017

Mastrangeli, M., Zhou, Q., Sariola, V., & Lambert, P. Surface tension-driven self-alignment. Soft Matter, 13(2), 304-327. 2017

Wang, J.-P., Gallo, E., François, B., Gabrieli, F., & Lambert, P. Capillary force and rupture of funicular liquid bridges between three spherical bodies. Powder Technology, 305, 89-98. 2017

Matsuoka, H., Kanda, T., Wakimoto, S., Suzumori, K., & Lambert, P. Development of a rubber soft actuator driven with gas/liquid phase change. International Journal of Automation Technology, 10(4), 517-524. 2016

Projects

  • FEMTOPRINT project

    Glass-based optomicromechatronics. PI : Pierre Lambert

    Funded by the FNRS
  • SWIMMERS project

    Thermo-magneto-capillary self-assembly. PI : Pierre Lambert

    Funded by the FNRS
  • NANOSCRIBE project

    3D microstructuration and microengineering of surfaces with 2 photon lithography. PI : Pierre Lambert

    Funded by the FNRS
  • PhD thesis of Adam Chafaï

    Capillary gripping and transport of objects at high dynamic. PI : Pierre Lambert

    Funded by the FNRS.
  • PhD thesis of Gilles Decroly

    Study, development and characterization of a miniaturized soft actuator for minimally invasive surgery. PI : Pierre Lambert

    Funded by the FNRS.
  • Postdoctoral position of Martin Brandebourger

    Mimicking the lymphatic system, this project aims at developing a novel fluidic flow system, replacing rigid channels and pressure sources by soft (i.e. compliant) channels and distributed actuation. PI : Pierre Lambert

    Funded the FNRS
  • Instrumented flexible glass structure (INFuSE)

    Engrave photonic functions in glass microstructures, in order to sense mechanical strains pr biochemical compounds. Microfabrication of glass-based MEMS for precision mechanics, force sensing and vibrations control. PI : Pierre Lambert

    Funded by the FNRS