Triangular Prism and Slit Electrode Pair for ECF Jetting Fabricated by Thick Micromold and Electroforming as Micro Hydraulic Pressure Source for Soft Microrobots
Joon-Wan Kim*,†, Thanh V. X. Nguyen**, Kazuya Edamura***, and Shinichi Yokota*
*Precision and Intelligence Laboratory, Tokyo Institute of Technology
J3-12, 4259 Nagatsuta-cho, Midori-ku, Yokohama 226-8503, Japan
**Interdisciplinary Graduate School of Science and Engineering, Tokyo Institute of Technology, Yokohama, Japan
***New Technology Management Co., Ltd., Tokyo, Japan
In this paper, we propose a triangular prism and slit electrode pair (TPSE) and its micromechanical systems (MEMS) fabrication process for a novel micropump using electro-conjugate fluid (ECF), which is based on a thick photoresist (KMPR) micromold (≥ 500 μm) and nickel electroforming. ECF is a kind of functional and dielectric fluid. The strong and active jet flow of an ECF is generated between two electrodes surrounded by the ECF when a high direct-current voltage is applied to the electrode pair. The micropumps generated by the ECF jetting can be used as micro hydraulic pressure sources for soft microrobots. By substituting these ECF micropumps for bulky air compressors or hydraulic pumps utilized in soft robots, we can realize advanced soft microrobots in which the driving sources are embedded. An MEMS-based TPSE for an ECF micropump was successfully fabricated by using the proposed MEMS fabrication process. The maximum output pressure without a flow and the flow rate without a load were 24.6 kPa and 27.5 mm3/s, respectively, at an applied voltage of 2 kV. The experimental results show that the MEMS-fabricated TPSE is a good candidate for electrode-type ECF micropumps utilized in various applications of soft microrobots whose pressure sources are embedded inside.
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