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June 10, 2003

Dr. Rodney Ruoff
Department of Mechanical Engineering
Northwestern University
"Mechanics of Nanostructures and the Nascent Field of Nanorobotics"

Abstract.  We have designed, built, and used nanoscale manipulation tools to pick, place, mount, and test the physical properties of various nanostructures:  carbon nanotubes, carbon nanocoils, silica nanorods, boron nanowires.  The nanomanipulator tools are placed into a scanning electron microscope.  Testing has included quasi-static mechanical loading in tension and compression, and mechanical resonance of cantilevered nanowires driven by either mechanical or electrical excitation. I will introduce this work while also covering current limitations of the method, with an eye towards a significantly more robust system  that would do many of the needed steps more efficiently—by using concepts available from robotics, or new concepts that we could invent if needed, because there may be aspects of nanoscale 3-d assembly that differ from micro or macroscale assembly.  A few examples of 3-d assembly, now admittedly tedious for us, will be shown to provide examples for areas needing improvement. The Ruoff group is supported by the National Science Foundation, the Office of Naval Research, and NASA, including through the NASA URETI “Biologically Inspired Materials Center” founded in September, 2002.  

Vanderbilt University