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A microgripper for single cell manipulation

This thesis presents the development of an electrothermally actuated microgripper for the manipulation of cells and other biological particles. The microgripper has been fabricated using a combination of surface and bulk micromachining techniques in a three mask process. All of the fabrication details have been chosen to enable a tri-layer, polymer (SU8) - metal (Au) - polymer (SU8), membrane to be released from the substrate stress free and without the need for sacrificial layers. An actuator design, which completely eliminates the parasitic resistance of the cold arm, is presented. When compared to standard U-shaped actuators, it improves the thermal efficiency threefold. This enables larger displacements at lower voltages and temperatures. The microgripper is demonstrated in three different configurations: normally open mode, normally closed mode, and normally open/closed mode. It has-been modelled using two coupled analytical models - electrothermal and thermomechanical - which have been custom developed for this application. Unlike previously reported models, the electrothermal model presented here includes the heat exchange between hot and cold arms of the actuators that are separated by a small air gap. A detailed electrothermomechanical characterisation of selected devices has permitted the validation of the models (also performed using finite element analysis) and the assessment of device performance. The device testing includes electrical, deflection, and temperature measurements using infrared (IR) thermography, its use in polymeric actuators reported here for the first time. Successful manipulation experiments have been conducted in both air and liquid environments. Manipulation of live cells (mice oocytes) in a standard biomanipulation station has validated the microgripper as a complementary and unique tool for the single cell experiments that are to be conducted by future generations of biologists in the areas of human reproduction and stem cell research.
Date January 2008
CreatorsHermosilla, Belén Solano
PublisherDurham University
Source SetsEthos UK
Detected LanguageEnglish
TypeElectronic Thesis or Dissertation

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