Ryan Shih Rose Hills
Development and Integration of MEMS Devices for Submerged Microrobotics: Swimming at the Microscale
Microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) are sub-millimeter structures that combine electrical and mechanical principles to produce novel sensors, actuators, and transducers for complicated tasks at the microscale. While most MEMS research focuses on devices operating in air, biomedical applications and the parallel growth of microfluidics have stimulated efforts towards MEMS operation in fluid, especially biological media. Previous work under this program examined devices in deionized water and demonstrated successful operation of an electrostatic actuator capable of generating high force density. This work extends upon those findings and focuses on designing more intricate mechanisms like motors and spring-loaded joints that can be driven in aqueous conditions by the actuators demonstrated previously. These mechanisms can then be utilized in complex integrated systems, such as a microrobot capable of entering the human body and performing medical procedures such as diagnostics, drug delivery, local tissue repair, and surgery.