A Disposable Pneumatic Microgripper for Cell Manipulation with Image-Based Force Sensing
A new design for a single-use disposable pneumatic microgripper is presented in this paper. It enables very cost-eective batch microfabrication in SU-8 with a single lithography mask by shifting manufacturing complexity into reusable components. An optically readable force sensor with potential to be used in a feedback loop has been integrated in order to enable gripping with a controlled force. The sensors are first examined separately from the gripper and exhibit good linearity. The gripper function utilizes the disposable gripper element together with a reusable gripper fixture. During experiments, the pneumatically actuated microgripper can vary the gripping force within a range of a few mN (up to 5.7 mN was observed). This microgripper is planned to be used in a liquid environment for gripping larger aggregates of cells in combination with the patch clamp technique. This approach will allow Langerhans islets suspended in an electrolyte solution to be grasped and held during electrophysiological measurements without cell damage.