Micro- and nanorobotics

Micro- and nanorobotics group is actively working on micro- and nanorobotic manipulation and automation methods, including acoustic manipulation, microassembly, magnetic micromanipulation, nanoforce characterization, autonomous micromanipulation, and their applications in biomedical, material and industrial applications.

The research is highly interdisciplinary, from micro- and nanoscale physics, surface sciences, mechatronics, to automation methods. The research group has extensive collaboration with both academic and industrial partners through EU, Academy of Finland, TEKES, and industrial projects.  


Prof. Quan Zhou

Leader of the research group

Email: firstname.lastname [at] aalto [dot] fi
Telephone: + 358 40 855 0311
Address: Maarintie 8, 02150 Espoo, Finland
Office: TUAS building, 3570

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 Open positions

  • Currently there is no funded open positions. You are encouraged to contact if you have financial support or plan to apply financial support.




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Acoustic manipulation

We have developed a single actuator acoustic manipulation technology based on a vibrating Chladni plate. In contrary to many potential-trapping based acoustic manipulation methods, our technology is based on the out-of-nodal-line motion. The technology also clarified the myth of motion randomness before particles settle to nodal lines since the original experiments of Ernst Chladni in 1780s.

By repeatedly measuring the position of objects and playing a selected musical note, our method allows independent trajectory following, pattern transformation, and sorting of multiple miniature objects in a wide range of materials, including electronic components, water droplets loaded on solid carriers, plant seeds, candy balls, and metal parts.

Selected publications:

Video: youtube



Wetting and microfluidics

We have developed methods to control liquid spreading using simple silicon undercut structures, which can confine the wetting of a range of liquids including the ones with very low surface tension.

We have also discovered that the electron beam of environmental scanning electron microscope (ESEM) can create precise patterns that have extreme wetting contrast of 150º and features as small as 1 µm.

We also applied the hydrophilic-superhydrophobic patterns for gravity induced rapid deposition of nano-liter droplets.

Selected publications:



Surface-tension assisted hybrid microassembly

We have conducted extensive research on surface-tension assisted hybrid microassembly, including the first extensive study of how self-alignment and robotic pick-and-place can work together, how different process parameters, including surface chemical properties, topographical features, fabrication precision, and material softness, affect the surface-tension driven (or capillary) self-alignment.

The work has also been applied to integration of semiconductor chips, laser diodes, and 3D integration of microchips, especially in the EU FP7 project FAB2ASM where Prof. Zhou was the coordinator.

Selected publications:


bar.pngGroup members

Quan Zhou Professor, leader of the group
Ville Liimatainen Postdoctoral researcher
Matti Hokkanen Postdoctoral researcher
Zoran Cenev Ph.D. student
Kourosh Latifi Ph.D. student
Harri Wijaya Ph.D. student
Saeed Karimi Ph.D. student
Anastasiia Kravtcova M.Sc. student


bar.pngSelected publications

  1. Controlling the motion of multiple objects on a Chladni plate, Q. Zhou, V. Sariola, K. Latifi, V. Liimatainen, Nature Communications 7, 12764, 2016.
  2. Maskless, High‐Precision, Persistent, and Extreme Wetting‐Contrast Patterning in an Environmental Scanning Electron Microscope, V. Liimatainen, A. Shah, L.S. Johansson, N. Houbenov, Q. Zhou, Small 12 (14), 1847-1853, 2016.
  3. Capillary Self-Alignment of Microchips on Soft Substrates, B. Chang, Q. Zhou, Z. Wu, Z. Liu, R.H.A. Ras, K. Hjort, Micromachines 7 (3), 41, 2016.
  4. Sliding droplets on hydrophilic/superhydrophobic patterned surfaces for liquid deposition, B. Chang, Q. Zhou, R.H.A. Ras, A. Shah, Z. Wu, K. Hjort, Applied Physics Letters 108 (15), 154102, 2016.
  5. Self-transport and self-alignment of microchips using microscopic rain, B. Chang, A. Shah, Q. Zhou, R.H.A. Ras, K. Hjort, Scientific reports 5, 2015.
  6. Surface tension-driven self-alignment of microchips on low-precision receptors, I. Routa, B. Chang, A. Shah, Q. Zhou, Journal of Microelectromechanical Systems 23 (4), 819-828, 2014.
  7. Controlling liquid spreading using microfabricated undercut edges, V. Liimatainen, V. Sariola, Q. Zhou, Advanced Materials 25 (16), 2275-2278, 2013.
  8. Surface-tension driven self-assembly of microchips on hydrophobic receptor sites with water using forced wetting, B. Chang, A. Shah, I. Routa, H. Lipsanen, Q. Zhou, Applied Physics Letters 101 (11), 114105, 2012.
  9. Capillary-driven self-assembly of microchips on oleophilic/oleophobic patterned surface using adhesive droplet in ambient air, B. Chang, V. Sariola, S. Aura, R.H.A. Ras, M. Klonner, H. Lipsanen, Q. Zhou, Applied Physics Letters 99 (3), 034104, 2011.
  10. Hybrid microassembly combining robotics and water droplet self-alignment, V. Sariola, M. Jääskeläinen, Q. Zhou, IEEE transactions on robotics 26 (6), 965-977, 2010.


bar.pngLink to Aalto research database.


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