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Developing Future Electronic Microassembly Systems

One of the trends in modern electronic products is miniaturization, for example the size of mobile phone reduced from brick to match. Such miniaturized products use even smaller components, and in more and more cases they are micro components — the size of the components is less than one millimetre. When the micro components are introduced, they were simple and normally can be integrated directly to the product. However, the development in microsystem technology brings large variety of micro components made from different materials and technologies. Thus, the demand of assembly of micro components — microassembly — increases dramatically.

Illustration of the effect of adhesive forces in the microscopic scale

Microassembly is different from conventional assembly; the main reason is the adhesion forces between micro components. For example, it is very easy to pick a sand grain using your fingertip — because of the surface tension force from the water film between your fingertip and the sand grain. In a dry environment, dust will accumulate on materials such as glass or plastic because of electrostatic forces. In microassembly, we have to deal with those forces: van der Waals, electrostatic and surface tension, and other phenomena. Therefore, when we assemble micro components, normally it is very easy to pick up the component but the releasing is very difficult.

The FEMAS project will build a simulation environment for manipulation and assembly of micro components to miniaturized products while taking into consideration of those micro domain forces. We will use virtual reality as the method. Such a simulation environment will help the development of assembly technology as well as design methods for future miniaturized products.

The research project is carried out at