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Directed Self-Assembly of Microcomponents Enabled by Laser-Activated Bubble Latching

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posted on 06.09.2011, 00:00 by Li Jiang, David Erickson
This article introduces a method for microscale assembly using laser-activated bubble latching. The technique combines the advantages of directed fluidic assembly and surface tension-driven latching to create arbitrarily complex and irregular structures with unique properties. The bubble latches, generated through the laser degradation of the tile material, are created on the fly, reversibly linking components at user-determined locations. Different phases of latching bubble growth are analyzed, and shear force calculations show that each bubble is able to support a tensile force of approximately 0.33 μN. We demonstrate that by exploiting the compressibility of bubbles, assembled objects can be made to switch between rigid and flexible states, facilitating component assembly and transport. Furthermore, we show reconfiguration capabilities through the use of bubble hinging. This novel hybrid approach to the assembly of microscale components offers significant user control while retaining a simplistic design environment.