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Page updated at 12:44:33 PM on Monday, May 21st, 2012

MICROSWIM - Light driven microscopic swimmer

Funded with €655,000.00 for 36 months (from February, 2010 to January, 2013) by IIT within SEED 2009 Edition

Person in charge: Diederik Wiersma
LENS members: Matteo Burresi, Giacomo Cerretti, Jean-Christophe Gomez Lavocat, Camilla Parmeggiani, Kevin Vynck, Hao Zeng

Highly light-sensitive polymers to assemble nanoswimmer for nanotechnologies and medicine.

An sample of nanorobots based on carbonaceous nanoparticles (from Tekniker-IK4).

The project aims to create micrometer size objects with nanometer scale precision that can propel themselves (swim) in a liquid. The structures will be based on polymer composites and their deformation needed to creating a self-propulsion will be triggered by light. Hence these structures will swim either towards or away from a light source.

The essence of the idea is that we plan to use liquid crystal elastomers that deform when illuminated with light. We will create three dimensional structures out of these materials with the appropriate shape, structure, and optical properties, using direct laser writing. This technique allows to create structures of up to tens of microns in size with 100 nm resolution.

An example of injectable elastomeric materials for biomedical applications (from Society for Biomaterials).

One of the challenges of self-propulsion of micro meter objects is that the fluid dynamics are very different from what we are used to on a macroscopic scale. In particular, the Reynolds number is low which means that the viscous forces are dominant over the inertial forces (swimming in honey). This means that the motion of an object has to be non-reciprocal in order to achieve a net displacement. The project is involved both in fundamental science (nano-photonics/fluidics, self-propulsion on micrometer scale) and applications (drug delivery, artificial functionalities, micro robotics) and the general goal is to bring together different fields of research in order to create a new research area of photonic micro robotics. To achieve this, we will combine our expertise on complex photonic materials and direct laser writing and apply that to create micro structured patterns in liquid crystal elastomers, which are rubber-like polymers with liquid crystalline properties.

 

Publications

Only publications with LENS-affiliated authors are listed and for now there is no one.