This paper reports the results of numerical nonlinear electro-Thermo-mechanical analysis and experimental testing of a polymeric microgripper designed using electrothermal actuators. The simulation work was carried out using a finite element method (FEM) and a commercial software (Coventorware 2014). The biocompatible SU-8 polymer was used as structural material for the fabrication of the microgripper. The metallic micro-heater was encapsulated in the polymeric actuation structures of the microgripper to reduce the undesirable out-of-plane displacement of the microgripper tips, and to electrically isolate the micro-heater, and to reduce the mechanical stress as well as to improve the thermal efficiency. The electro- thermo-mechanical analysis of the actuator considers the nonlinear temperature-dependent properties of the SU-8 polymer and the gold thin film layers used for the micro-heater fabrication. An optical characterisation of the microgripper based on an image tracking approach shows the thermal response and the good repeatability. The average deflection is ∼11 m for an actuation current of ∼17 mA. The experimentally obtained tip deflection and the heater temperature at different currents are both shown to be in good agreement with the nonlinear electro-Thermo-mechanical simulation results. Finally, we demonstrate the capability of the microgripper by capture and manipulation of cotton fibres.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Physics and Astronomy(all)