CE33 - Interaction, robotique

Nanorobotics by 4D printing: tethered robots by using two-photon stereolithography – PNanoBot

Submission summary

Based on the growing need for micro-nanorobots identified in European Strategic Research Agenda 2014-2020, the fabrication and development of nanoscaled devices and nanoelectromechanical systems (NEMS) that use nanomaterials require nanorobotics to achieve precise techniques for positioning, sensing, and assembly with nanometer resolutions. Nanorobotics is facing a huge and exciting challenge: the needs to interact with matter at its most possible localized way and to propose solutions working in confined spaces that are not limited to very dedicated applications.
To overcome the current limitations on dexterity, compactness, range, and precision, a relevant solution is the fabrication of robotic structures smaller than few millimeters in 3D and capable of accurate dexterous motions in confined spaces where non-contact manipulation is not possible. The project PNanoBot aims to investigate the development of nanorobotic structures, attached at the tip of optical fibers and fabricated by using Two-Photon Stereolithography (TPS) process with resists, that behave like transducer after photofabrication. The main idea is to design the next generation of tethered nanorobotics by combining complex 3D structures designed with metamaterial part and photo-thermo multi-responsive polymers. The actuation is achieved through the laser beam in the fiber core by controlling simultaneously or successively optical flux and wavelength. PNanoBot aims to acheive a workspace to robot volume ratio better than the state of the art by preserving robotic performances required for nanoscale, namely ten nanometers precision and tens nanometers of repeatability.
The project is organized in 4 technical work packages, a management work package and a dissemination and valorisation work package, to manage a scientific programme of 4 main axes: (1) the development of photo-thermo multi-responsive, (2) multi-physic modelling of basic actuator and complex 3D active structures which corresponds to elementary blocks (EB) (contraction, bending, and twisting), (3) Kinematic design and modelling of soft-tethered nanorobotics which need robotic characterization of each EB, kinematic study of their arrangement to obtain multi-degrees of freedom robots, and development of specific tools for nanorobotics, and (4) the development of two demonstrators for manufacturing and biomedical applications which highlight the outstanding performance of PNanoBot.
To guarantee the success of PNanoBot, which offers a world-class scientific challenge, the project merges complementary expertise of partners as physics, mechanical design, microrobotics, material science, and nanofabrication process. The partners - FEMTO-ST/AS2M, FEMTO-ST/MN2S and IS2M/MNMS - provide high-level expertise in kinematic design and modelling of soft-tethered nanorobotics, multi-physic modelling of complex 3D active structures and development of photo-thermo responsive polymers. The complementarity of partner’s for equipments notably reduce risk: it is thanks to a modular and reconfigurable setup available at IS2M will be used for understanding and optimize functional material, a second, complementary turn-key machine available at FEMTO-ST will be used to test various architectures and prototypes in small series.
The economic and societal benefits of PNanoBot are potentially very significant. Creating a new nanorobotics paradigm that will make possible some disruptive applications for both manufacturing and medical. Two main challenges have been identified: characterizing matter in confined environment at small scales (like natural fibers, carbon nanotubes, etc.) and intracorporeal interventions by developing innovative tools. The prototypes and techniques developed in the project could have a very high potential for use and could be the subject of intellectual protection, which would be a basis for the creation of an industrial activity.

Project coordination


The author of this summary is the project coordinator, who is responsible for the content of this summary. The ANR declines any responsibility as for its contents.


IS2M Institut de Sciences des Matériaux de Mulhouse (IS2M) - UMR 7361

Help of the ANR 559,750 euros
Beginning and duration of the scientific project: January 2022 - 48 Months

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