Directed Self-Assembly May Revolutionize Manufacturing Process for Electronic Components

Achievement date: 

Researchers at the NSF-funded Lighting Enabled Systems & Applications ERC (LESA), headquartered at Rensselaer Polytechnic University, have developed a directed self-assembly (DSA) technology that could revolutionize the manufacturing process for electronic components. The technology uses diamagnetic levitation, suspending objects in the field between magnets, and moves them by exposing them to very weak vibration pulses.


Electronic components are assembled using pick-and-place robots. Many electronics, though, require much higher-speed and lower-cost methods to assemble microscopic devices on large substrates. The Center developed a directed self-assembly technology using diamagnetic levitation with low friction, leading to high assembly speed and low tooling costs. This helps meet a core thrust of advancing manufacturing techniques for smart lighting systems.


The location of objects in a stable energy state depends on the vertical orientation of levitating objects, resulting in vertical self- alignment in the desired orientation when a proper pattern of vibration pulses is applied to the magnetic stage.


These fundamental principles, together with absence of individual die manipulation and complex fast-moving parts, enable high assembly rate and low tooling cost using the DSA technology. This technology can be utilized for placement of a large variety of thin electronic components, enabling fast and parallel assembly of large-area heterogeneous systems, which can benefit a wide range of applications from LED lighting to robotics.