ENME 489O - Micro/Nano Robotics

3 Credits



None required.


ENME 351


This course will cover design, modeling, fabrication, and analysis of robots operating on the “micro” and “nano” scale.  Micro/nano robots are defined in a variety of different ways but in general a microrobot will have features on the micron scale or make use of micro-scale physics for manipulation or mobility.  Topics covered will include the physics of scaling, fabrication, actuation and sensing, and case studies of micro/nano robots.


  • Develop the ability to evaluate the relative importance of different forces, mechanical, and electrical properties across different size scales  Develop the ability to solve fundamental problems relating to microrobotics actuation, sensing, power, communication, and locomotion
  • Expand your ability to apply mathematics, physics, and basic engineering to problems relating to microrobotic systems
  • Learn how to conduct experiments, as well as to analyze and interpret data obtained by performing an in-lab homework assignment with micromechanisms and microactuators
  • Learn how to read research papers through a short response to weekly assigned research papers and use the knowledge gained in this course on manufacturing to design a system or component relevant to micro/nano robotics
  • Enhance your ability to learn new material on your own through the research required for the semester project.  Enhance your ability to communicate your knowledge through a presentation and written paper on your semester project


  • Week 1: Physics of scaling 
  • Week 2: MEMS/NEMS fabrication for robotics 
  • Week 3: SCM and alternative fabrication methods 
  • Week 4: Assembly and review of mechanisms and flexures 
  • Week 5: Actuation – electrostatic and thermal 
  • Week 6: Actuation – piezoelectric and magnetic 
  • Week 7: Case study – microrobots for manufacturing 
  • Week 8: Sensing – strain, microscopy, noise 
  • Week 9: Case study – bio-inspired sensors 
  • Week 10: Software tools and power – batteries and solar 
  • Week 11: Power – energy harvesting and external fields 
  • Week 12: Locomotion on land and in fluids 
  • Week 13: Communications and swarms 
  • Week 14: Case study – mobile microrobots

Learning Outcomes 

  • an ability to apply knowledge of mathematics, science, and engineering
  • an ability to design and conduct experiments, as well as to analyze and interpret data
  • an ability to design a system, component, or process to meet desired needs within realistic constraints such as economic, environmental, social, political, ethical, health and safety, manufacturability, and sustainability
  • an ability to identify, formulate, and solve engineering problems
  • an ability to communicate effectively
  • a recognition of the need for, and an ability to engage in life-long learning
  • a knowledge of contemporary issues
  • an ability to use the techniques, skills, and modern engineering tools necessary for engineering practice
  • an ability to work professionally in both thermal and mechanical systems areas

Class/Laboratory Schedule 

  • Two 75 minute lectures per week

Last Updated By 
Sarah Bergbreiter, June 2017