This thesis presents actuators used in autonomous microsystems. Characteristic for all actuators presented is the low drive voltage and the low power consumption. Different motion mechanisms have been studied and applied in various locomotion modules for microrobots.
High resolution movement of a monolithic piezoceramic PZT rotational arm module, using a quasi-static motion mechanism, was demonstrated in a 10x10x20 mm3 autonomous robot. The rotational arm comprises multilayer PZT bimorphs and is fabricated by a wet-building technology. The multilayer approach enables operation of the modules at the low drive voltages provided by the robot electronics. In addition a locomotion module has been designed and fabricated based on the above principles.
A three-legged locomotion module with piezoceramic unimorphs, moving by tapping the legs against the floor, has been investigated. Characteristics such as low power consumption, high velocities, low drive voltages and a high weight carrying capability were demonstrated using a resonant motion mechanism.
Highly miniaturized three-legged locomotion modules were developed for a 3x3x3 mm3 autonomous microrobot. The modules comprise a multilayer structure of the electroactive copolymer P(VDF-TrFE) on a flexible printed circuit board (FPC) substrate. A novel multilayer fabrication process suitable for mass production was used. It is based on sequential deposition of spun cast copolymer with evaporated aluminum electrodes. Reactive ion etching is used to microstructure the copolymer and the FPC. The mechanical deformability of the FPC is exploited when folding the 2D FPC-multilayer assembly into 3D locomotion modules. Locomotion was demonstrated by moving a glass slider corresponding to the robot weight.
A modular building technology for microsystems is presented. It uses surface mounting technology and conductive adhesives to assemble modules on a double-sided FPC. Complex geometries were achieved by subsequent folding the FPC. The feasibility of the technology was demonstrated by assembly of the 3x3x3 mm3 autonomous microrobots.