Topic: Materials for Small-Scale Robotics
We live in a world increasingly surrounded by robots such as robotic surgical systems, flying drones, autonomous planetary rovers, and robotic appliances. An emerging family of robotic systems are untethered micro- and nanorobots. These tiny vehicles can move either by harvesting chemical fuels present in their swimming environments or by means of external energy sources. One of the ultimate goals of small-scale robotics is to develop machines that can deliver drugs, or realize other medical missions in confined spaces of the human body. Other applications include water remediation or "on the-fly" chemistry. The recent rapid developments in small-scale robotics is undeniably related to advances in material science and manufacturing. However, while many applications have been demonstrated, aspects such as complex locomotion, multifunctionality, biocompatibility and biodegradability need to be further investigated for the successful translation of these devices to real applications. To this end, new material based concepts and novel fabrication schemes are urgently required.
In this talk, I will introduce one of our latest developments in small-scale robotics. We will show how 3D printed microtemplates can be exploited to produce complex robotic microstructures made of rigid metals, soft polymers and combinations of these. As a result, topologically complex metal-organic structures can be realized with sub-micrometric resolution. I will also demonstrate that metal-organic interlocked micromachines can solve several practical challenges in small-scale robotics. We show that high magnetic responsiveness, drug loading capabilities, biocompatibility, on-demand shape transformation, and multi locomotion modes can be embedded in a single microrobotic machine.
Salvador Pané Vidal
Dr. Salvador Pané i Vidal (Barcelona, 1980) is currently a Professor of Materials for Robotics at the Institute of Robotics and Intelligent Systems (IRIS) and co-director of the Multi-Scale Robotics Lab at ETH Zürich. He received a B.S. (2003), M.S (2004) and a PhD in Chemistry (2008) from the University of Barcelona (UB) in the field of the electrodeposition of magnetic composites and magnetoresistive alloys. He became a postdoctoral researcher at IRIS in August 2008 and Senior Research Scientist in 2012. He has authored or co-authored more than 160 articles in international peer-reviewed journals and books for education in science. Dr. Pané is currently working on bridging chemistry and materials with robotics at small scales. Dr. Pané is/has been also the coordinator for a FET Open project (MANAQA), and a FET Proactive (ANGIE). In 2013, Dr. Pané was awarded the highly competitive Starting Grant from the European Research Council (ERC). From 2015 to 2019, he was the Chair of the COST Action “e-MINDS: Electrochemical processing methodologies and corrosion protection for device and systems miniaturization” which brings together more than 40 European academic institutions and industries. He represents Switzerland in the European Academy of Surface Technology. He is also co-founder of the startup Magnes AG and Oxyle AG. In 2017, he was awarded a Consolidator Grant (ERC).
In 2019, Dr. Pané was honored with the Big-on-Small Award at the International Conference on Manipulation, Automation and Robotics at Small Scales (MARSS). He has also received the ERC Proof-of-Concept grant (2019).