ABSTRACT: Inspired by the "run-and-tumble" behaviours of Escherichia coli (E. coli) cells, we develop opto-thermoelectric microswimmers. The microswimmers are based on dielectric-Au Janus particles driven by a self-sustained electrical field that arises from the asymmetric optothermal response of the particles. Upon illumination by a defocused laser beam, the Janus particles exhibit an optically generated temperature gradient along the particle surfaces, leading to an opto-thermoelectrical field that propels the particles. We further discover that the swimming direction is determined by the particle orientation. To enable navigation of the swimmers, we propose a new optomechanical approach to drive the in-plane rotation of Janus particles under a temperature-gradient-induced electrical field using a focused laser beam. Timing the rotation laser beam allows us to position the particles at any desired orientation and thus to actively control the swimming direction with high efficiency. By incorporating dark-field optical imaging and a feedback control algorithm, we achieve automated propelling and navigation of the microswimmers. Our opto-thermoelectric microswimmers could find applications in the study of opto-thermoelectrical coupling in dynamic colloidal systems, active matter, biomedical sensing, and targeted drug delivery.
PROVIDER: S-EPMC7429954 | BioStudies |