Silicon/Elastomer Fabrication

The Micro Robotics Laboratory is working on developing jumping microrobots.

Existing actuators for microrobotic applications are typically have relatively low force, low output power.  This is not conducive for jumping, which requires rapid release of energy (high power).  For this, the ability to store energy and then release it quickly it is necessary.  Typical microfabrication technologies include hard, high modulus metals, dielectrics, and semicondutors.  These mechanical and electrical properties of these materials are useful for many applications, but not for using MEMS acutators to store energy.  Materials used in microfluidics such as elastomers are much better matched to the current MEMS actuators.

A new fabrication process for the integration of an elastomer into a standard silicon-on-insulator (SOI) process has been developed so that silicon and elastomer components can be fabricated without any required assembly.