Robots for Microscopes

When objects become too small for the human hand to manipulate and interact, robots come into play and take over to assist the human operator. Robots?

This little red cube is a mobile robot.

It is called miBot™ and it helps scientists and engineers from the most famous research institutes around the globe to easily carry out precise characterizations of objects of only a few nanometers in size. The miBot can move a tool in four directions over several millimeters with a resolution of up to half a nanometer.

What is this robot good for?

Several tools can be moved by the miBot: electric probes, grippers, pipettes, optical fibers, sensors, etc. This versatility makes this high end instrument be used for multiple needs. With 4 degrees of freedom in an ultra compact and light body, the miBot is a unique piezo-based positioner. Contrary to a traditional manipulator, the miBot is a mobile robot. It is virtually untethered and free to move over the surface of the base where your sample is placed. Since it has no mounting screws, the miBot can be coarsely positioned by hand and naturally adapts to changing sample size and geometry. The miBot moves along its natural axes; no rotational and translational motion are coupled. This makes it very intuitive to control and everyone in a lab will only need a few minutes of training before starting to get results.

The miBot moves in two different modes, providing scalable positioning resolutions from the micrometer to the nanometer. In stepping mode, the piezoelectric actuators are operated with AC voltage. The range of displacements of the miBot are several centimeters with a resolution up to 40 nm. No signal is applied on the actuators to maintain the position. In scanning mode, DC voltage is applied and maintained on the actuators with the amplitude defining the displacements. The range of displacements is a few hundreds of nanometers with a resolution up to the nanometer.

Under an optical (light) microscope, the miBots can manipulate and inject cells or help to precisely dissect mouse brain tissue.

Integrated with industrial microscopes and test equipment, these robots make possible advances in nanoelectronics research.

The high precision of positioning and intuitiveness of use of the miniature mobile robots enable to manipulate and perform electronic transport measurements of nanowires, carbon nanotubes, graphene flakes directly inside the vacuum chamber of an electron microscope.

Video: “Imina Technologies: Single Cell Manipulation” on YouTube

Video: “Imina Technologies: manipulation of nanowires” on YouTube

Acknowledgements and Contact:
Benoît Dagon PhD, CEO & Founder
Imina Technologies SA
EPFL Innovation Park, Bâtiment E
1015 Lausanne
Phone: +41 22 534 90 78