MSRAL Facilities

The MSRAL has facilities located in two buildings across the Purdue University campus.  One MSRAL facility is located in room B065D-F in the basement of the Flex Lab.  The second MSRAL facility is located on the first floor of the Ray W. Herrick Laboratories.  MSRAL researchers also utilize the multi-user facilities located at the Birck Nanotechnology Center.


MSRAL@FLEX is the central location for the groups microrobotics related research and is approximately 700 square feet in size.  It contains four actively vibration controlled optical tables for the multi-scale manipulation test-bed, consisting of four Sutter Instruments MPC-285 micromanipulators and a Nikon Ti-U inverted optical microscope and XY stage, and various micromanufacturing, mobile microrobotics and microscope test-beds.  Another area of the lab is used for clean storage of samples and other dust-sensitive devices and components.  The mobile microrobotics test-beds include custom made magnetic coil systems for controlling magnetic microrobots as well as one commercial system, the MagnebotiX MFG-100.  To obtain individual control of multiple magnetic microrobots at the same time, both a mm-scale and micro-scale specialized control substrate consisting of 8 x 8 and 11 x 11 arrays planar micro-coils along with the required control electronics and software has been developed and reside in the lab.  The control electronics can address each microcoil individually allow for local magnetic field control only in the area of the robot on the workspace.  The micromanfacturing station is the uFAB-3D system from Microlight 3D.  It is a 3D, two-photon absorption microfabrication system.  It consists of 532 nm laser module, driver and synchronization module, fast 3D piezo cube sample module, and PC workstation with control hardware.  It resides inside a Nikon Ti inverted optical microscope on an actively vibration controlled optical table. The other portion of the lab consists of lab benches and computers equipped with requisite software packages, such as COMSOL, SolidWorks, Matlab, LabView, and ANSYS, and various lab testing hardware.  Down the hall is a shared lab space with access to a fume-hood and where MSRAL group members work with chemicals, hotplates, sonicators, etc.  Co-located student offices are on the second floor of the Flex building for MSRAL students and post-docs.


MSRAL@Herrick is the focal point for the mobile robotics research of the lab.  MSRAL members use the unique multi-user Perception Based Engineering (PBE) lab facility for aerial and ground robot testing.  This lab is a 43’ x 28’ x 20’ semi-anechoic space, equipped with a state-of-the-art motion capture system consisting of twelve Vicon T160 cameras and retractable netting.  The system is set up for the simultaneous motion tracking and control of both multiple UAV and ground robots.  Both commercial and custom UAVs are available.  The commercial robot platforms include Intel AeroDrones (x2), 3DR iRIS quadrotor UAVs (x2), 3DR Y-6 Trirotor UAV, Parrot AR Drone 2.0, TurtleBots (x4), and Clearpath Robotics Jackal UGV; the custom platforms include the Interacting-BoomCopter UAV(x2), the Omnicopter, and the AgBug.  In addition to on-board IMUs and GPS sensors, the following sensors are available for use with the robot platforms:  Logitech C270 webcam, ELP 2.0Megapixel 1080P camera, Intel RealSense R200 and D435 RGB-D sensors, Intel RealSense Tracking Camera T265, LiDAR Lite sensor, FLIR Vue Pro Thermal camera, PX4 Flow optical flow sensors, and Ouster LiDAR sensors.  Additionally, autonomous mobile manipulation and mobile robot platforms, the Fetch and Freight from Fetch Robotics, respectively, are available for use by MSRAL researchers.  They are located in the Digital Manufacturing Testbed at the Indiana Manufacturing Institute (IMI) facility.

Two Kistler force plates along with a ramp system are also available for use with the Vicon motion capture system in the PBE Lab.  This allows for biomechanics studies to be performed in a variety of environments.  Additionally, the High-Bay Flexible Laboratory is an open 36’ x 87’ high-bay area on the first floor of Herrick Labs.  Aerial and ground robot manufacturing, assembly, controller tuning, repairs, and RC testing is performed in this space.  The design and analysis portion of the lab consists of desks and meeting space as well as computers equipped with requisite software packages, such as COMSOL, SolidWorks, Matlab, LabView, and ANSYS.

Multi-robot testing in the PBE Lab

Birck Nanotechnology Center

The multi-user Birck Nanotechnology Center, just north of the Flex Lab, comprises 187,000 square feet and the heart of the building is a 25,000 sq. ft. Class 1-10-100 nanofabrication cleanroom (Scifres Nanofabrication Laboratory), part of which is configured as a soft materials cleanroom with separate entry and gowning areas and isolated air flow. The building also includes over 22,000 sq. ft. of laboratory space external to the cleanroom, including special low vibration rooms for nanostructures research, with temperature control to less than 0.1 °C. Other laboratories are specialized for nanophotonics, crystal growth, bio-nanotechnology, molecular electronics, MEMS and NEMS, surface analysis, SEM/TEM, electrical characterization, RF systems, instruction and training, and precision micro-machining and the Hall Nanometrology Laboratory. Facilities enabling key capabilities in the following areas exist:  Nanoscale metrology, materials growth and deposition, nanoelectronics and microelectronics, nanofabrication, electronic characterization, nanophotonics, bio-nanotechnology, nano-chemistry, soft materials lithography, and two photon polymerization (TPP) 3D printing.