Light-Powered, Fuel-Free Oscillation, Migration, and Reversible Manipulation of Multiple Cargo Types by Micromotor Swarms

Jianhua Zhang, Abhrajit Laskar, Jiaqi Song, Oleg E. Shklyaev, Fangzhi Mou, Jianguo Guan, Anna C. Balazs, Ayusman Sen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations

Abstract

Through experiments and simulations, we show that fuel-free photoactive TiO2 microparticles can form mobile, coherent swarms in the presence of UV light, which track the subsequent movement of an irradiated spot in a fluid-filled microchamber. Multiple concurrent propulsion mechanisms (electrolyte diffusioosmotic swarming, photocatalytic expansion, and photothermal migration) control the rich collective behavior of the swarms, which provide a strategy to reversely manipulate cargo. The active swarms can autonomously pick up groups of inert particles, sort them by size, and sequentially release the sorted particles at particular locations in the microchamber. Hence, these swarms overcome three obstacles, limiting the utility of self-propelled particles. Namely, they can (1) undergo directed, long-range migration without the addition of a chemical fuel, (2) perform diverse collective behavior not possible with a single active particle, and (3) repeatedly and controllably isolate and deliver specific components of a multiparticle “cargo”. Since light sources are easily fabricated, transported, and controlled, the results can facilitate the development of portable devices, providing broader access to the diagnostic and manufacturing advances enabled by microfluidics.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)251-262
Number of pages12
JournalACS nano
Volume17
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 10 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Materials Science
  • General Engineering
  • General Physics and Astronomy

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