IR. Harvey, B. Baker, A. Hogan, K. Ford
Instead of making machines smaller that work well in the macro world, we envision a new class of machines that are specifically designed to take advantage of what works well in the micro-scale world. These devices require a different mentality in both design and control methodology because they depend neither on capacitance, voltage, nor on the passage of current (the typical approach to electromechanical design), but on manipulation of the fundamental unit of charge. Not quite static, and not dynamic enough to be concerned with current, but focused on how materials and designs allow charge to be collected on a surface and redistributed in controlled fashion, in order to mechanically take advantage of fundamental coulombic repulsion and attraction effects which have enormous relative capacity for both high force and large displacement at the micrometer scale and below. An outcome of this design approach is the setting aside of the two-terminal (power/ground) thought process in favor of a single point of contact and control, and even the possibility of non-contacting methods, using field emitters, beta particle emitters, or triboelectricity. Non-contact examples will be shown, including movies of devices that can be used for microscale biomimetic focusing optics.