MAE 189 Novel Actuator for Drones using EPMs

EPM Project


Our project is centered around an electro-permanent magnet(EPM) on a micro scale. The function of an EPM is to have a switchable magnet, within a nonswitchable magnet, that can have the direction of its magnetic field be switched by an input of current through a solenoid wrapped around the EPM. With an onset of current, the solenoid would produce a magnetic field large enough to essentially reverse the direction of the switchable magnet's induced magnetic field. The switchable magnet is made of cast alnico grade 5, an iron alloy, while the switchable magnet is made of grae 52 NdFeB, a neodymium alloy. Alnico serves as the outer cylindrical ring, while the NdFeB is placed within the ring, to form one giant cylinder. In the perspective of size, our final goal is to design and create a final iteration where the cylinder would be a 3mm by 3mm (diameter x thickness). In a larger scale application, this EPM can be incorporated with a bellow, which can be cmpressed or stretched similar to a spring, and thus when the magnetic field is switched a resulting pull force or push force of a spring would insinuate. The goal is to have the on setting of the switchable magnet induce an outward push force from a spring, and thus create force/motion just by supplying current. With the bellow, the EPM can be utilized to mimic artificial movement, and potentially, in mass, operate as artificial muscles. Through our design process we have chosen our goal to be centered around a haptic feedback application. 


-There is already an existing patent for EPM's

-There are EPM's currently on the market, but none of them are smaller than 5 mm 

Goals and Objectives


Week 1 - Works towards characterization of the magnetic components

Week 2 -  Research how to characterize our circuit to adequately pulse our EPM and prevent overheating

Week 3 - Work towards a new solenoid coil design, prevent overheating by increasing the magnetic field through increased volume

Week 4 - Prepare EPM demonstration for visiting faculty, take notes and considerations on how we can improve our design

End of Quarter - Make new bellow that can be utilized on a day-to-day basis, requires overall less current and produces less heat. Make the design more applicable for safety in haptics.

Goals at the end of two quarters - Fabricated EPM and Bellows with proper characterization. Circuit analysis for future use as well. 

Team Contacts

Zhuangzhuang Li - email:

Patricia Azcui Mancilla - email:

John Taylor Golden - email:

Bryan Wood - email:

Eli Tsao - email:


Prof. Velez 


Team Name and Inspiration

Our team name is MagnetoZot.The magneto part of the name follows after a fictional superhero character with the ability to manipulate all forms of magnetism, while Zot stems from the UCI mascot and chant ZotZot. So we felt the combination of the two was appropriate in emphasizing a project revolving around a magnet, specifically an electro-permanent magnet. 

Project status: 
Academic year: 
Fall Poster: