Thursday, August 2, 2012

No. 578: Successful development of a micropump 50 times more powerful than the standard micropump (August 2, 2012)

A research team led by Shinichi Yokota of Tokyo Institute of Technology developed a micropump 50 times more powerful than the standard micropump. The newly developed micropump uses liquid called electro conjugate fluid (ECF) as the driving source. ECF is mainly insulating liquid of the fluorine system, and it produces strong jets between electrodes if voltage is applied. The micropump can be miniaturized easily without the necessity of adding any extra equipment because it can be driven only by voltage. In addition, it can be easily mass produced at a low cost because the micro electromechanical system (MEMS) is used for the production. The research team plans to apply it to micro robot hand and artificial muscle.

The new micropump consists of triangle poles and slit-like electrodes put on each of the poles. The MEMS process that combines thick film resist and electroplating is used for the production. Both the slit width and the clearance between electrodes are 200 micrometers. When voltage is applied to the micropump connected to a container that contains ECF, ECF flows along the channel. Power of the pump can be adjusted by the amount of voltage. A unit is 0.5 mm high, 0.7-1.0 mm wide, and 2 mm long. It is possible to increase the discharge pressure and flow rate by connecting units in series and in parallel. A new micropump composed of three units in parallel and 10 units in series exhibited power density of 150 mW when 4 kg voltage is applied. Because it is five times more powerful than the standard micropump, it can be used for a micro robot that needs a certain amount of force for driving.   

The newly developed micropump 50 times
more powerful than the standard micropump

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