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Kate Andrew

Kate Andrew staff profile picture

School of Food and Advanced Technology
College of Sciences


Thesis Title
Development of Optical Nano Machines for Observation of Molecules

Research Description
Tiny forces and infinitesimal displacements can be applied and measured using optical tweezers, leading to interesting studies in material science and biomedical studies. Cellular processes and molecular properties can be monitored and investigated by applying such forces, but optical tweezers require intense lasers and can be damaging. Introducing optical nanomachines to act as intermediate end-effectors for these studies is a possible solution to this problem, and laser-based 3D printing presents a method for producing such nanomachines. This research has covered the development and use of such machines to stretch DNA, with a further goal of using such tools to improve the range of forces that can be applied through mechanical amplification.

Research Importance
This research is relevant in the fields of biophysics, engineering, optics and nanoscience, as it puts another set of tools in the hands of researchers. Optical nanorobotics has the potential to greatly increase the capabilities of optical tweezers.

Personal Description
I completed my BE(Hons) in Mechatronics engineering at the University of Canterbury before starting my PhD at Massey following a summer doing R&D with Syft Technologies. The highly interdisciplinary project piqued my interest, as did the expertise and research interests of my supervisors, and the opportunities for collaboration with researchers at the TU Delft, the Netherlands. Following my PhD, I would like to continue to do microrobotics research in Germany or Austria- ich möchte mein Deutsch verbessern!

Dr Ebu Avci
Professor Bill Williams


Andrew P-K, Williams MAK, Avci E. Optical Micromachines for Biological Studies. Micromachines. 2020; 11(2):192. https://doi.org/10.3390/mi11020192

Andrew P-K et al., "Design of Optical Micromachines for Use in Biologically Relevant Environments*," 2020 IEEE/ASME International Conference on Advanced Intelligent Mechatronics (AIM), 2020, pp. 2039-2045, doi: 10.1109/AIM43001.2020.9158816.