Controlling artificial microswimmers

Materials Colloquium 2020 - December, 2nd, 16:30

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Laura Alvarez (Laboratory for Soft Materials and Interfaces, D-MATL, ETHZ)

Programming the dynamics of artificial microswimmers provides a benchmark towards the realization of smart microscale devices. Motile microorganisms, such as bacteria, have developed sophisticated mechanisms to regulate their dynamics based on environmental changes [1]. The creation of artificial programmable microswimmers capable of reproducing such complex performance using much simpler structures remains an open challenge [2]. Here we present two strategies to create artificial microscale active agents that are able to move, sense and respond to external stimuli [3-5]. In both cases, a real time feedback with the environment dictates the swimming behavior of artificial microswimmers. This new generation of adaptive active colloids constitutes an important step in the pursuit of autonomous microsystems with potential applications in microrobotics.

[1] K. Son, Nature Reviews, 13, 761-775 (2015).
[2] C. Bechinger,, Revi. Mod. Phys, 88, 045006-045056 (2016).
[3] M. A Fernandez-Rodriguez, Nature Communications, 11, 4223 (2020).
[4] A. R. Sprenger, Langmuir, 36, 25 (2020).
[5] L. Alvarez, submitted (2020).

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