Date of Award
Master of Science
Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering
LaVern A. Starman, PhD
This thesis includes the design, modeling, and testing of novel, power-scavenging, biologically inspired MEMS microrobots. Over one hundred 500-μm and 990-μm microrobots with two, four, and eight wings were designed, fabricated, characterized. These microrobots constitute the smallest documented attempt at powered flight. Each microrobot wing is comprised of downward-deflecting, laser-powered thermal actuators made of gold and polysilicon; the microrobots were fabricated in PolyMUMPs® (Polysilicon Multi-User MEMS Processes). Characterization results of the microrobots illustrate how wing-tip deflection can be maximized by optimizing the gold-topolysilicon ratio as well as the dimensions of the actuator-wings. From these results, an optimum actuator-wing configuration was identified. It also was determined that the actuator-wing configuration with maximum deflection and surface area yet minimum mass had the greatest lift-to-weight ratio. Powered testing results showed that the microrobots successfully scavenged power from a remote 660-nm laser. These microrobots also demonstrated rapid downward flapping, but none achieved flight. The results show that the microrobots were too heavy and lacked sufficient wing surface area. It was determined that a successfully flying microrobot can be achieved by adding a robust, light-weight material to the optimum actuator-wing configuration—similar to insect wings. The ultimate objective of the flying microrobot project is an autonomous, fully maneuverable flying microrobot that is capable of sensing and acting upon a target. Such a microrobot would be capable of precise lethality, accurate battle-damage assessment, and successful penetration of otherwise inaccessible targets.
DTIC Accession Number
Denninghoff, Daniel J., "Power-Scavenging MEMS Robots" (2006). Theses and Dissertations. 3480.