Pea-sized microbarbershop? Chess pieces half the width of a human hair?

Posted on June 20, 2010. Filed under: engineering, innovation, nanotechnology | Tags: |

Once again the amazing creativity and skill of engineering students was demonstrated in the 2010 design competition  for microelectromechanical systems (MEMS).  The annual conpetition, open to universities participating with Sandia National Laboratories in its MEMS University Alliance, provides an opportunity for engineering students to hone their skills in designing and using microdevices.

The 2010 competition offered two categories.  One emphasized novel design concepts and the other emphasized unique structure design and its uses as an educational tool.  They were won, respectively by Texas Tech’s chess board – the diameter of four human hairs, and the University of Utah’s microbarbershop, intended to service a single hair. 

The chess board comes with micropieces scored with the pattern of traditional chess pieces. each piece has tiny stubs that allow a microrobotic arm to move them from square to square, and there’s space on the side of the board to hold captured pieces.  I wonder who’ll play the first game? 🙂

The microbarbershop consists of a microgripper, cutter, moveable mirror, and a micro blow dryer – all to to create that one perfect hair!

Seriously, the design competition is intended to help students understand and master the engineering challenges of MEMS devices.  And the results are fascinating! –nks

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