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Proceedings Paper

Characterization of an acoustic actuation mechanism for robotic propulsion in low Reynolds number environments
Author(s): Christopher House; Jenelle Armstrong; John Burkhardt; Samara Firebaugh
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Paper Abstract

With the end goal of medical applications such as non-invasive surgery and targeted drug delivery, an acoustically driven resonant structure is proposed for microrobotic propulsion. At the proposed scale, the low Reynolds number environment requires non-reciprocal motion from the robotic structure for propulsion; thus, a “flapper” with multiple, flexible joints, has been designed to produce excitation modes that involve the necessary flagella-like bending for non-reciprocal motion. The key design aspect of the flapper structure involves a very thin joint that allows bending in one (vertical) direction, but not the opposing direction. This allows for the second mass and joint to bend in a manner similar to a dolphin’s “kick” at the bottom of their stroke, resulting in forward thrust. A 130 mm x 50 mm x 0.2 mm prototype of a swimming robot that utilizes the flapper was fabricated out of acrylic using a laser cutter. The robot was tested in water and in a water-glycerine solution designed to mimic microscale fluid conditions. The robot exhibited forward propulsion when excited by an underwater speaker at its resonance mode, with velocities up to 2.5 mm/s. The robot also displayed frequency selectivity, leading to the possibility of exploring a steering mechanism with alternatively tuned flappers. Additional tests were conducted with a robot at a reduced size scale.

Paper Details

Date Published: 11 June 2014
PDF: 10 pages
Proc. SPIE 9083, Micro- and Nanotechnology Sensors, Systems, and Applications VI, 90832R (11 June 2014); doi: 10.1117/12.2050054
Show Author Affiliations
Christopher House, U.S. Naval Academy (United States)
Jenelle Armstrong, U.S. Naval Academy (United States)
John Burkhardt, U.S. Naval Academy (United States)
Samara Firebaugh, U.S. Naval Academy (United States)


Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 9083:
Micro- and Nanotechnology Sensors, Systems, and Applications VI
Thomas George; M. Saif Islam; Achyut K. Dutta, Editor(s)

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