Microtech2010 2010

Self-assembled microscopic surface walkers

C.E. Sing, A. Alexander-Katz
Massachusetts Institute of Technology, US

Keywords: self-assembly, microscopic flows, cilia, superparamagnetic particles, magnetic fields


Here, we present a novel approach for creating controlled surface-induced flows inspired by a ubiquitous biological system, cilia. Our design is based on a collection of self-assembled colloidal rotors that “walk” along surfaces in the presence of a rotating magnetic field. Both our experimental and theoretical studies show that the velocity, direction, and particular flow characteristics can be controlled by direct manipulation of the magnetic field that drives the motion of these “surface walking” assemblies. These assemblies are dynamic since they exist only in the presence of an external magnetic field, and their shape is strongly controlled by the magnetic field. This system represents a completely reversible self-assembled active material that can be used on demand and does not require complex fabrication techniques. Furthermore, it offers a simple and versatile approach for designing novel microfluidic devices as well as for studying fundamental questions in cooperative driven motion and transport at the microscopic level.
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