Technology Innovation and Innovation on Demand have been granted a US patent for “Wireless Technique for Microactivation”. It relates to microactuators or tiny devices that can be operated wirelessly using focussed beams of energy. In doing so the microactuators can control objects in the nanoscale range.
The technology combines heat actuated shape memory alloys (SMA) microactuators and electron beam or photon beam heating. The shape memory alloys return to a memorised state or shape when heated, eliminating any requirement for chips or batteries, allowing miniaturisation. The heating technologies allow focussed beams of energy to be directed at the shape memory alloy, again eliminating the need for batteries and wires.
Using these technologies have enabled the inventors to create micro robots as small as 2 microns wide by 10 microns long, or 50 times smaller then what is possible using current actuator technology.
The microactuators which are created from shape memory alloy thin films and can be controlled in scanning electron microscopes using their electron beams.
The devices can be used as a nanotechnology tool as well as construction and control of medical devices such as valves and stents, microsurgical instruments, miniaturised manufacturing moulds and manipulation of proteins and genetic components.