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Soft microrobotics

academic year

Course teacher(s)

Pierre LAMBERT (Coordinator)

ECTS credits


Language(s) of instruction


Course content

This course presents some of the recent advances in soft/wet microrobotics, namely:

  • Active materials and design methodologies to produce soft actuators and tunable stiffness mechanisms
  • Compliant mechanisms for microrobotics (mainly produced in elastic metal by electro-discharge machining or glass for femtosecond laser machining), used to measure microforces or to provide kinematics in precision mechanics and MEMS applications
  • Surface tension effects and capillary forces enhancing adhesion, sealing, actuation, or self-centering in microsystems

Additionally, two methodologies are also introduced:

  • Scaling laws in micro-engineering (dimensional analysis, similitude laws)
  • Design of experiments, to organize experimental campaigns in many parameters problems

Objectives (and/or specific learning outcomes)

The goal of the course is to give an overview of the ongoing research in the field, to offer student the opportunity to become familiar with the scientific literature, and to apply one of the course topics in their own master thesis or in one of the research questions of the department


Required knowledge and skills

The course is based on previous courses of mechanical engineering: mechanics, materials strength, kinematics, and dynamics of machines.

Teaching methods and learning activities

  • 24h theory: theoretical course and seminars based on ongoing research in the department
  • 24h practical work: introduction to the software Design Expert used in design of experiments, exercises on scaling laws, and individual work applying the course to your master thesis or to a research question of the department. Examples of past works: design of an electrostatic actuator (coupling of electrostatics and compliant mechanisms), design and assembly of a lateral capillary forces test bed, to characterize industrial micro-assembly processes, design and assembly of a forces measurement device to characterize granular adhesion in soil mechanics, characterization of silicone-ethanol actuators…
  • 12h personal work

Contribution to the teaching profile

Develop a scientific methodology mixing rigor and creativity, develop structured scientific approaches, with tools and languages appropriate for sciences and engineering sciences.

References, bibliography, and recommended reading

Course notes

  • Université virtuelle

Other information

Additional information

The course starts early November and end mid-March. It is therefore compatible with internships. The work report is asked by Eastern so that the course is mostly finished by end of March (except the examination in June).


Pierre LAMBERT, TIPs, http://plambert.ulb.be




Method(s) of evaluation

  • Other

Oral examination (75%) + written project report (25%)

Mark calculation method (including weighting of intermediary marks)

Oral examination (75%) + written project report (25%)

Language(s) of evaluation

  • english
  • french