The institute
FEMTO's news

You are here

ThermoBot : micro robots that walk on water

Imagine, a robot, the size of a fly, walking on the surface of the water and pursued by a laser beam. One could believe in a science fiction scenario...

It is in fact a very serious scientific development, a ThermoBot, the new Franco-Belgian microrobot that has just been revealed by the very serious scientific journal "Sciences Robotics".

Micro-robotics focuses on developing miniature robots capable of evolving in various environments to interact with a wide variety of objects such as cells in a biological environment, nanocomponents in a vacuum chamber, etc.

ThermoBots investigate an environment little explored until now by micro robotics: the air-liquid interface, an environment widely used by insects in nature.

The teams of the FEMTO-ST Institute (CNRS/UBFC) have combined their skills in microrobotics with the skills in applied physics of the Université Libre de Bruxelles to build new microrobots able to evolve on the water surface.

The principle of locomotion, also original in robotics, is based on a particular physical phenomenon: thermocapillarity. In concrete terms, a laser scans the surface of the liquid and heats it locally, inducing a complex but controlled movement of the liquid on the surface, allowing several robots placed at the air-liquid interface to move.

The research teams have shown that the Thermobots can follow a trajectory in a controlled manner with a precision of less than a millimeter at speeds that are nevertheless very high on a miniature scale (20 times the size of the robot per second, i.e. the equivalent of 200km/h for a vehicle). They also showed that this generic principle could be used to realize original assemblies of microcomponents placed on the surface of liquid. The future of these ThermoBots remains to be invented. One can imagine that they could interact with insects evolving on liquid surfaces to study their behavior or that they could be used to convey microcomponents along microchannels in a miniature factory.

 

Contact :

FEMTO-ST (CNRS-UBFC) : Aude Bolopion

More informations :

DOI: 10.1126/scirobotics.abd3557

See the article published in the INSIS/CNRS scientific news

See the video demonstration of the movement of the micro robot on the water surface

  • FEMTO-ST : 2 full professors appointed to the IUF in its class 2022

    Ausrine MARGUERON-BARTASYTE and Daniel HISSEL are among the 164  national laureates appointed to the Institut Universitaire de France (IUF) by the Minister of Higher Education and Research

    Read more
  • Tribute to our colleague Philippe LUTZ

    Our scientific community of Burgundy-Franche-Comté has just suddenly lost Philippe LUTZ, full professor at the University of Franche-Comté and a leading figure in microrobotics and micromechatronics research at the FEMTO-ST laboratory.

    Read more
  • How to create a chemical bond with light?

    The formation of a chemical bond between two molecules often requires an activation process. Light is a stimulus that is particularly interesting

    Read more
  • Best student paper Award for Clément Carlé at the international conférence IFCS-EFTF2022

    This award was obtained in the "Microwave Frequency Standards" category of this major international conference in the field of time-frequency metrology, which took place in Paris from 24 to 28 April 2022.

    Read more
  • Daniel BRUNNER winner of an ERC Consolidator grant 2021

    Daniel BRUNNER is a CNRS researcher at the FEMTO-ST Institute and has been awarded a prestigious European Research Council Cosolidator Grant of 2M € for his INSPIRE project

    Read more
  • Daniel HISSEL awarded as « Fellow » of the IEEE society

    Professor in Electrical Engineering at the University of Franche-Comté and researcher at FEMTO-ST, Daniel Hissel has been awarded as  for his work on hydrogen systems.

    Read more
  • March 8, International Women's Day

    "Freedom, like Science, and Women's Rights, are fundamental issues for Humanity."

    FEMTO-ST chooses to display on this day of March 8 (also charged with the serious news of the war in Ukraine), its commitment to each of these three issues.

    Read more
  • First experimental observation of the roton effect in metamaterials

    Experiments conducted jointly by FEMTO-ST and KIT demonstrate the control of forward and backward wave propagation by adjusting the frequency.

    Read more
  • FEMTO-ST partner of the Joint Technology Unit "CAPPLAI"

    For the development of sensors to control and optimize the performance of dairy processes.                                                                                     

    Read more
  • Happy new year 2022 !

    The Management and all the members of FEMTO-ST wish you a year 2022 full of personal and professional satisfactions

    Read more

Pages