A research team, led by Prof. Wu Dong from the University of Science and Technology of China (USTC) of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), has proposed an innovative femtosecond laser 2-in-1 writing multi-material processing strategy for fabricating micromachined joints. These joints are composed of temperature-sensitive hydrogels and metal nanoparticles, and the team has successfully developed multi-jointed humanoid micromachines capable of multiple deformation modes. The research results have been published in the prestigious journal Nature Communications.
Over the years, femtosecond laser two-photon polymerization has emerged as a revolutionary three-dimensional fabrication technique with nanoscale precision. It has found applications in various domains such as micro-nano optics, microsensors, and microelectromechanical systems. However, the challenge has been to effectively utilize femtosecond lasers for multi-material processing and construct micro-nano mechanics with multiple modalities.
In this study, the researchers have employed a femtosecond laser dual-function fabrication strategy. This strategy involves using asymmetrical two-photon polymerization to create hydrogel joints and locally depositing silver nanoparticles (Ag NPs) within the joints through laser reduction. By inducing anisotropy in the cross-linking density of the hydrogel micro-joints using this asymmetric light-polymerization technique, the researchers have achieved directional and angular-controllable bending deformations.
The in-situ laser reduction deposition method allows for precise fabrication of silver nanoparticles on the hydrogel joints, which exhibit strong photothermal conversion effects. This enables the multi-joint micromachinery to exhibit ultra-fast response times (30 ms) and extremely low driving power. The researchers have successfully integrated eight micro-joints into a humanoid micro-mechanism and utilized spatial light modulation technology to achieve multi-focal beams in 3D space for precise stimulation of each micro-joint.
Collaborative deformation between multiple joints enables the humanoid micromachine to achieve various reconfigurable deformation modes, giving rise to what can be described as “dancing microrobots” at the micrometer scale. As a proof of concept, the researchers have designed a dual-joint miniature mechanical arm that can collect micro-particles in both parallel and divergent directions by controlling the distribution and deformation direction of the micro-joints.
This femtosecond laser dual-function fabrication strategy holds great promise for constructing deformable micro-joints in various 3D micro-structured areas and realizing multiple re
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Shambhu Kumar is a science communicator, making complex scientific topics accessible to all. His articles explore breakthroughs in various scientific disciplines, from space exploration to cutting-edge research.
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