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Towards an Intuitive and Remotely Accessible Control System for Commercial Nanomanipulators

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2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Seattle, Washington

Publication Date

June 14, 2015

Start Date

June 14, 2015

End Date

June 17, 2015





Conference Session

Instrumentation Division Technical Session 2

Tagged Division


Page Count


Page Numbers

26.1593.1 - 26.1593.9



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Paper Authors


Ryan Michael Dunn Rochester Institute of Technology

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Ryan M. Dunn is a graduate student at the Rochester Institute of Technology. His research interests include micro- and nanomanipulator control systems and interdisciplinary control development. He holds a B.S. in mechanical engineering from the Rochester Institute of Technology.

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Michael G. Schrlau Rochester Institute of Technology

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Dr. Schrlau joined the Department of Mechanical Engineering at RIT in 2011 and directs the Nano-Bio Interface Laboratory (NBIL). Prior to joining RIT, Dr. Schrlau was a Research Assistant Professor in Materials Science and Engineering at Drexel University (2009-2011), an Adjunct Professor in Materials Science and Engineering at the University of Pennsylvania (2009-2010), and a postdoctoral fellow in Pharmacology at Temple University. Dr. Schrlau has over 7 years of combined engineering and operations experience in the consumer products industry. His research appears in several high impact journals, including Nature Nanotechnoloy, ACS Nano, Small, and Nanotechnology, was featured in Nanotechnology and ACS Nano, and has resulted in several patents. Dr. Schrlau is interested in several aspects critical to the interface of nanotechnology and biology, including nanomanufacturing, nanomanipulation, technology-biology interactions, and biomedical applications, and investigates micro/nanoscalefluid behavior and develops related micro/nanotechnologies for biological metrology.

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Towards an Intuitive and Remotely Accessible Control System for Commercial Nanomanipulators Nanomanipulators are high-precision positioning instruments used in conjunction withhigh magnification optical and electron microscopes to interact with objects on the nanometerscale. Biomedical science can make use of such equipment to elucidate the behavior ofindividual living cells at the nanoscale. Many commercial nanomanipulator control systems anddevices are unintuitive and expensive, limiting potential students and new researchers fromgaining exposure to nanoscience. In this paper, we explore alternative instrumentation fornanomanipulator control and seek a more familiar and intuitive control method for these devices.More intuitive control will decrease the time required for students and researchers to familiarizethemselves with a new system and lower the accessibility barrier. The control instrumentscompared herein include a commercial Eppendorf control unit, a third-party joystick, a computermouse, and a drawing tablet. To compare the devices, users perform tasks with each controldevice while the accuracy is quantified and the user experience is surveyed. Additionally, geographical and financial limitations prevent students and researches fromutilizing nanomanipulators. To overcome these limitations, the graphical user interface (GUI)developed to interface with the compared instrumentation has a networking component thatenables users to access the manipulator from remote locations. The GUI consists of a freesoftware package that runs on most personal computers and allows the user to performmanipulations under an optical microscope with real-time visual feedback. The networkingcomponent and intuitive instrumentation will facilitate access to nanoscience for students andresearchers around the world, enriching educational experiences and the opportunity for furtherresearch in the field of nanoscience.

Dunn, R. M., & Schrlau, M. G. (2015, June), Towards an Intuitive and Remotely Accessible Control System for Commercial Nanomanipulators Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.24929

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