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Manufacturing with Light? New Approach to Assemble Electronic Components
An international team led by researchers from the University of Glasgow in Scotland has developed a new light-based manipulation method that could one day be used to mass produce light-based devices and electronic components for smartphones, computers and other electronics. Researcher Shuailong Zhang envisions “assembly lines with no robotic arms. Instead, discrete components assemble themselves almost magically as they are guided by the patterns of light.” Optical traps, which use light to hold and move small objects in liquid, are promising as a non-contact method to assemble electronic and optical devices. However, when using these traps for manufacturing applications, the liquid must be removed, a process that tends to displace any pattern or structure that has been formed using an optical trap. The new method involves using an advanced optical trapping approach known as optoelectronic tweezers to assemble electrical contacts. Thanks to an innovative freeze-drying method developed by the research team, the liquid could be removed without disturbing the assembled components.
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