Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department

Mechanical Engineering

Major Professor

Nathan B. Crane


fluid-fluid interface, hexadecane, lateral capillary forces, microchip, micro self-assembly


Mechanical assembly of systems and structures on the micro-scale can be inefficient as pthesiss of sub-millimeter dimensions are difficult to manipulate. Cutting edge manufacturing methods implement self-assembly as an approach to ordering micro and nano-sized parts into a desired arrangement. This thesis studies a technique utilizing surface tension as a method of actuating microparts on a liquid-liquid interface via lateral capillary interactions. Preliminary experimentation is conducted to investigate the feasibility of developing a new method for self-alignment of microparts by observing the influence of interfacial geometry on the movement of silicon tiles along a hexadecane-water interface. Different surface geometries are created by implementing vertical rods of different wetting properties that alter the curvature of the interface. Results demonstrate that the microparts attain an equilibrium separation distance from the vertical rods. It is indicated that this equilibrium distance is determined by the dimensions of the micropart and the curvature of the interface. With further investigation, these results may be used to cultivate a method for self-alignment of microparts into rings of a desired radius.