Force Feedback Systems

The Tip Strikes Back


Fig.1: Force measurement in steel

Fig.2: Force measurement in rubber

Fig.3: Imprint in a diamond surface

The combination of Nanorobotics and a force sensor allows a set of different applications:

  • Approach with force control: The tip approach with a manipulator can be stopped when a certain force limit is reached.
  • A manipulator as "Micro Tensile Machine": Without reducing the functionality of a high resolution Nanorobotics manipulator this tool can be used to modify or manipulate a sample. E.g. in a Scanning Electron Microscope a certain sample position can be reached with 2 nm resolution. And at any time this manipulator can be used to measure a force-distance curve (Fig. 1 & 2). Using our process control sequencer such an activity can be done completely automatically: Movement of the probe tip to a certain sample area (e.g. with the help of our vision system and pattern recognition), tip approach with force control, measurement of a force-distance curve, tip removal, ... if necessary on an array of sample positions. Naturally a micro tensile machine is also available as stand alone instrument without manipulator features.

Menu for defining force diagrams, including force-distance curves

  • Force feedback manipulator:

Imagine a tool with 2 Nanometer resolution that is controlled by a joystick and answers with the corresponding force feedback. Manipulating small objects manually becomes very intuitive, because the operator uses his own senses for controlling the stage. The forces applied to the tool tip can be so high, that even imprints in diamond surfaces can be produced (Fig. 3).

This device is made with three NMT modules, a calibrated force sensor and a Force Feedback Joystick. The force sensor between manipulator and sample allows to apply or measure calibrated forces in the mN range by moving the actuator within some 100 nm. Values like friction forces, glue stiffness, breakage limits or elastic constants of microparts can be determined in high resolution. The force sensor can also be assembled between a z-axis and a microgripper. Calibrated snap-in forces can then be applied, e.g. to press glass fibers into spring structures.

Menu to enter force feedback parameters and to see the actual force like with a scope


Force sensors are used for automatic tip approch, to expand manipulators as micro tensile machines, or in closed loop operation with a Force Feedback Joystick:
Feel the hardness of microparts in your hand! As tool in the Electron Microscope it allows to feel material properties - a new experience.

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