Design, Modelling and Testing of MEMS-based Microgripper Devices

  • Solomon Terwase Apuu

Student thesis: Master's Thesis


Secure grasping poses a significant challenge in micro-robotics, necessitating the development of efficient gripping mechanisms. This research focuses on the design and optimization of a novel MEMS-based microgripper to address this critical issue. The primary objective is to develop a microgripper with improved performance, specifically tailored for micro-robotic applications. Utilizing the SOIMUMPS fabrication process, the microgripper features an initial gap of 82.21 µm, enabling the gripping and stiffness determination of micro-objects. It incorporates a V-shaped electrothermal actuator and an arched microbeam, serving as an in-plane displacement amplifier. The microgripper's compact size (1.75 mm X 1.92 mm) is achieved through an innovative design concept that utilizes resonance frequency shift for object detection, eliminating the need for a separate sensor. Experimental testing and simulation analysis in COMSOL Multiphysics 4.3a demonstrate the microgripper's effectiveness in achieving grasping. With an actuation voltage below 7 V, it delivers a gripping force of approximately 6 mN, ensuring reliable handling of micro-objects. The gripping stroke of 50 µm further enhances its capabilities. Furthermore, MEMS technology provides distinct advantages such as compact size, low power consumption, and integration potential with electronic devices and integrated circuits (ICs). Performance evaluation reveals excellent repeatability, thermal stability, and low power requirements, enhancing the microgripper's suitability for micro-robotic applications. The validation experiments confirm the microgripper's ability to grasp objects, exemplified by successfully gripping a gold wire. Despite limitations in achieving larger gripping strokes due to fabrication imperfections, optimization efforts have allowed the microgripper to maintain its functionality at a reduced voltage of 4.5V, resulting in a substantial 43.75% reduction in power consumption. This research advances the field of micro-robotics by providing an efficient solution for grasping and stiffness measurement. The designed MEMS-based microgripper offers improved performance, compact size, and low power consumption. These characteristics make it highly suitable for various micro-robotic applications, including micromanipulation and micro-assembly tasks. The outcomes of this work lay the foundation for further advancements in micro-robotics and hold promise for a wide range of applications in diverse fields.
Date of AwardJun 21 2023
Original languageEnglish (US)
Awarding Institution
  • Physical Sciences and Engineering
SupervisorNazek Elatab (Supervisor) & Nouha Alcheikh (Supervisor)


  • MEMS
  • Mircogripper
  • Micromanipulation
  • Microassembly
  • Micro-robotics.

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