MAYA is our team and the name of our robot. MAYA stands for Micro Assembly YBCO Apparatus, which uses a YBCO (Yttrium Barium Copper Oxide) superconductor and micro-magnet system controlled by several motors to move the magnet to micron accuracy. The main principal at play here is quantum locking, or flux pinning. This is a quantum mechanical phenomenon that allows the magnet to be fixed in space above the superconductor, even if there is material between them. At MAYA, we are currently in the prototyping phase, and are developing our platform and optimizing our materials. At the moment we are focusing on joining micro assembly robotics challenges to learn more and upgrade. Once completed, MAYA opens up the possibility of performing complex operations on a small scale. In the future, we are looking to functionalize the magnet for custom applications such as micro electronics, and industrial micro-assembly.
These are the core components of our system:
- YBCO, a high temperature superconductor
- Linear actuators, stepper and servo motors
- Functionalized micro-piece (permanent magnet)
- Flux Pinning: Magnetic field penetrates superconductor in lattice of vorticies containing a quantized amount of magnetic flux
- Micro-magnets: 250 micro-meter magnets generate magnetic field that is pinned by superconductor
- Precise Actuation: Minimum step size of 2 microns in the X-Y and 6 microns in the Z plane
The crux of our technology relies on the YBCO, a material that becomes a superconductor at liquid nitrogen temperatures. By utilizing a phenomenon called flux pinning, the YBCO can pin a micro-scale functional piece in the space above itself. The position of the YBCO can be controlled using actuators and motors, leading to control of the micro-piece as well. To complete, an optical tracking system is implemented to rectify error between the macro and micro-scale movements, resulting in high-precision actuation.
Beyond just robotic assembly, we want to conduct our own research into superconductivity as it is a relatively new and undiscovered field. Though we are looking for new research opportunities we currently are working on a torsion balance system that will allow us to measure the force to move our magnet. Successfully doing this will not only give a better understanding into the limits of our system, but it can also be used to quantify properties such as stoichiometric makeup which could lead to new understanding of superconductivity, if at least in part.
If you are a professor, PhD or graduate student interested in the field of microrobotics and superconductors, we would love to hear from you! We also welcome discussions with sponsors who would be interested in implementing their magnets or superconductors into MAYA. Please direct any inquiries to Brandon Klassen (firstname.lastname@example.org) and CC Sofia Rizzo (email@example.com).