Date of Award

Winter 12-31-2018

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Materials Science and Engineering - (Ph.D.)


Committee for the Interdisciplinary Program in Materials Science and Engineering

First Advisor

N. M. Ravindra

Second Advisor

Siva P.V. Nadimpalli

Third Advisor

Eon Soo Lee

Fourth Advisor

Michael Jaffe

Fifth Advisor

Anthony Fiory


The vision of highly parallel, automated manufacturing systems that can build macroscopic products by heterogeneous assembly of many small devices will have a major impact in manufacturing. In this study, a novel milli-scale robotic assembly machine with parallel capabilities, assisted with programmable magnetic field, is developed. The machine prototype consists of a 16x16 array of electromagnets. The dimensions of the electromagnets are 5mm high with an inner diameter of 1.1mm and outer diameter of 2.5mm. All the electromagnets are driven by a 16x16 array of H-Bridges, and an Arduino microcontroller is used to control and program the arrays.

Using the machine to manipulate up to nine milli-scale robots simultaneously is demonstrated. The robot is designed with a 3x3 electromagnets array to operate and it consists of two parts: a polycarbonate chassis and five grade N42 NdFeB permanent magnets located at four corners and center of the chassis.

The capability of pick-and-place millimeter size devices, such as SMD (Surface Mounted Device) LEDs (Light Emitting Diodes), specifically 0805 LEDs, is demonstrated by using the prototype machine. A milli-scale tweezer is designed using AutoCAD Fusion 360 and simulated with COMSOL Multiphysics. The milli-scale tweezer is fabricated using a home-built Computer Numerical Control (CNC) machine. The tweezer is subsequently mounted to the robots. For proof-of-concept, simultaneous operation for pick-and-place two LEDs is carried out by two milli robots.

Furthermore, an 8x8 LED array is assembled by operating a single robot, which proves the potential capability of assembling an LED screen with the presented technology.