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The goal of this research is to develop microgrippers capable of grasping and transporting both rigid and flexible objects that are on the order of 5 to 500 microns. This capability is an enabling technology for many bio-applications that require the manipulation of cells and bacteria. The microgrippers are built from ionic polymer-metal composites (IPMC), an electroactive material, sometimes called artificial muscles. Alternative microgripper technologies available today often suffer from two problems. Many are too brittle for extended use. Others are too stiff and actually puncture the transported objects.

An example of an artificial muscle microgripper is shown below:



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