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.