Nanorobotics Systems

Lixin Dong | |


Progress in robotics over the past years has dramatically extended our ability to explore the world from perception, cognition and manipulation perspectives at a variety of scales extending from the edges of the solar system down to individual atoms. At the bottom of this scale, technology has been moving toward greater control of the structure of matter, suggesting the feasibility of achieving thorough control of the molecular structure of matter atom by atom. Nanorobotics represents the next stage in miniaturization for maneuvering nanoscale objects. Nanorobotics is the study of robotics at the nanometer scale, and includes robots that are nanoscale in size and large robots capable of manipulating objects that have dimensions in the nanoscale range with nanometer resolution. The main goals of nanorobotics are to provide effective tools for the experimental explorationof the nanoworld, and to push the boundaries of this exploration from a robotics research perspective.

The primary research direction at NanoRobotic Systems Lab (NRS Lab) lies in this emerging interdisciplinary field. The field of nanorobotics brings together several disciplines, including nanofabrication processes used for producing nanoscale robots, nanoactuators, nanosensors, and physical modeling at nano scales.  Nanorobotic systems emphasize the engineering aspect of nanorobotics and include the manufacturing and application technologies of nanorobotic manipulation systems, nanoelectromechanical systems (NEMS), and nanorobots (nano-sized robots, which have yet to be realized). NEMS will serve as both the tools to be used for fabricating future nanorobots as well as the components from which thesenanorobots may be developed. At present, nanorobotic manipulation and assembly are one of the main approaches for building and characterization of NEMS. Our current projects focus on a nanorobotic assembly station using multiprobe nanorobotic manipulators inside scanning electron microscopes (SEMs), high resolution nanorobotic manipulation inside transmission electron microscopes (TEMs),  nanorobotic systems on a tip, atomic scale mass delivery, and NEMS based on shell engineered carbon nanotubes, helical nanobelts, and peapod nanowires. Targeted application fields include nanomaterial science, bionanotechnology, and nanoelectronics.