Optical tweezers have emerged as a powerful tool for micro and nanomanipulation. Using optical tweezers to perform automated assembly requires on-line monitoring of components in the assembly workspace. This paper presents algorithms for estimating positions and orientations of microscale and nanoscale components in the 3-Dimensional assembly workspace. Algorithms presented in this paper use images obtained by optical section microscopy. The images are first segmented to locate areas of interest and then image gradient information from the areas of interest is used to generate probable locations and orientations of components in the XY-plane. Finally, signature curves are computed and utilized to obtain component locations and orientations in 3-D space. We have tested these algorithms with silica micro-spheres as well as metallic nanowires. We believe that the algorithms described in this paper will provide the foundation for realizing automated assembly operations in optical tweezers-based assembly cells.

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