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This paper is concerned with grasping biological cells in aqueous medium with miniature grippers that can also help estimate forces using vision-based displacement measurement and computation. We present the design, fabrication, and testing of three single-piece, compliant miniature grippers with parallel and angular jaw motions. Two grippers were designed using experience and intuition, while the third one was designed using topology optimization with implicit manufacturing constraints. These grippers were fabricated using different manufacturing techniques using spring steel and polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS). The grippers also serve the purpose of a force sensor. Toward this, we present a vision-based force-sensing technique by solving Cauchy's problem in elasticity using an improved algorithm. We validated this technique at the macroscale, where there was an independent method to estimate the force. In this study, the gripper was used to hold a yeast ball and a zebrafish egg cell of less than 1 mm in diameter. The forces involved were estimated to be about 30 and 10 mN for the yeast ball and the zebrafish egg cell, respectively.
Date of Publication: Oct. 2010