The researchers strung together three links in a chain about as long as a silk fiber is wide. One segment was a polymer, and two were magnetic, metallic nanowires. They put the tiny devices in a fluid even thicker than blood. And when they applied an oscillating magnetic field, the nanoswimmer moved in an S-like, undulatory motion at the speed of nearly one body length per second. The magnetic field also can direct the swimmers to reach targets.
Micro- and nanorobots operating in low Reynolds number fluid environments require specialized swimming strategies for efficient locomotion. Prior research has focused on designs mimicking the rotary corkscrew motion of bacterial flagella or the planar beating motion of eukaryotic flagella. These biologically inspired designs are typically of uniform construction along their flagellar axis. This work demonstrates for the first time planar undulations of composite multilink nanowire-based chains (diameter 200 nm) induced by a planar-oscillating magnetic field. Those chains comprise an elastic eukaryote-like polypyrrole tail and rigid magnetic nickel links connected by flexible polymer bilayer hinges. The multilink design exhibits a high swimming efficiency. Furthermore, the manufacturing process enables tuning the geometrical and material properties to specific application
NanoLetters - Undulatory Locomotion of Magnetic Multilink Nanoswimmers
7 pages of supplemental information
SOURCES - ACS, Nanoletters