1932

Abstract

Surface tension effects are known to be dominant at the submillimeter scale. Within this context, the literature has extensively described the underlying physics (e.g., surface tension, wetting, surface texturation, and coatings), and capillary forces have been exploited in a variety of applications (e.g., capillary picking, self-alignment, capillary sealing, and capillary bearings). As several stimuli can be used to control liquid menisci, these forces have been used mainly in microrobotics in open loop (i.e., without real-time feedback). However, at least two major sources of uncertainty hinder these forces from working properly in open loop: the variability due to contact-angle hysteresis (the difference between wetting and unwetting) and the variability in the involved volume of liquid. To be able to reject these disturbances, successful sensor integration and associated advanced control schemes need to be embedded in capillary microrobotic microsystems. This article analyzes research contributions in this field from three different perspectives: the stimulus action of the surface tension effect (light, B-field, etc.), the application field (actuation, picking, sealing, etc.), and the sensing and control schemes. Technologically complex developments coexist with elegant and straightforward engineering solutions. Biological aspects of surface tension are not included in this review.

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2023-05-03
2024-04-13
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