Document Type



Electrical Engineering

First Advisor's Name

Roberto Panepucci

First Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Chair

Second Advisor's Name

Chunlei Wang

Third Advisor's Name

Grover Larkins, Jr.

Fourth Advisor's Name

Yuriy A. Vlassov


MEMS, waveguide, MOEMS, optical feedback, microgripper, SU-8

Date of Defense



Microstructure manipulation is a fundamental process to the study of biology and medicine, as well as to advance micro- and nano-system applications. Manipulation of microstructures has been achieved through various microgripper devices developed recently, which lead to advances in micromachine assembly, and single cell manipulation, among others. Only two kinds of integrated feedback have been demonstrated so far, force sensing and optical binary feedback. As a result, the physical, mechanical, optical, and chemical information about the microstructure under study must be extracted from macroscopic instrumentation, such as confocal fluorescence microscopy and Raman spectroscopy. In this research work, novel Micro-Opto-Electro-Mechanical-System (MOEMS) microgrippers are presented. These devices utilize flexible optical waveguides as gripping arms, which provide the physical means for grasping a microobject, while simultaneously enabling light to be delivered and collected. This unique capability allows extensive optical characterization of the structure being held such as transmission, reflection, or fluorescence. The microgrippers require external actuation which was accomplished by two methods: initially with a micrometer screw, and later with a piezoelectric actuator. Thanks to a novel actuation mechanism, the “fishbone”, the gripping facets remain parallel within 1 degree. The design, simulation, fabrication, and characterization are systematically presented. The devices mechanical operation was verified by means of 3D finite element analysis simulations. Also, the optical performance and losses were simulated by the 3D-to-2D effective index (finite difference time domain FDTD) method as well as 3D Beam Propagation Method (3D-BPM). The microgrippers were designed to manipulate structures from submicron dimensions up to approximately 100 µm. The devices were implemented in SU-8 due to its suitable optical and mechanical properties. This work demonstrates two practical applications: the manipulation of single SKOV-3 human ovarian carcinoma cells, and the detection and identification of microparts tagged with a fluorescent “barcode” implemented with quantum dots. The novel devices presented open up new possibilities in the field of micromanipulation at the microscale, scalable to the nano-domain.



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