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Using Shape Diversity on the Way to Structure-Function Designs for Magnetic Micropropellers

Abstract : Synthetic microswimmers mimicking biological movements at the microscale have been developed in recent years. Actuating helical magnetic materials with a homogeneous rotating magnetic field is one of the most widespread techniques for propulsion at the microscale, partly because the actuation strategy revolves around a simple linear relationship between the actuating field frequency and the propeller velocity. However, the full control of the swimmers' motion has remained a challenge. Increasing the controllability of micropropellers is crucial to achieve complex actuation schemes that in turn are directly relevant for numerous applications. The simplicity of the linear relationship though limits the possibilities and flexibilities of swarm control. Using a pool of randomly-shaped magnetic microswimmers, we show that the complexity of shape can advantageously be translated into enhanced control. In particular, directional reversal of sorted micropropellers is controlled by the frequency of the actuating field. This directionality change is linked to the balance between magnetic and hydrodynamic forces. We further show an example how this behavior can experimentally lead to simple and effective sorting of individual swimmers from a group. The ability of these propellers to reverse swimming direction solely by frequency increases the control possibilities and is an example for propeller 2 designs, where the complexity needed for many applications is embedded directly in the propeller geometry rather than external factors such as actuation sequences.
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Submitted on : Wednesday, March 27, 2019 - 2:57:13 PM
Last modification on : Wednesday, October 9, 2019 - 8:36:32 AM
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Felix Bachmann, Klaas Bente, Agnese Codutti, Damien Faivre. Using Shape Diversity on the Way to Structure-Function Designs for Magnetic Micropropellers. Physical Review Applied, American Physical Society, 2019, 11, pp.034039. ⟨10.1103/PhysRevApplied.11.034039⟩. ⟨cea-02072723⟩

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