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Highly Efficient Freestyle Magnetic Nanoswimmer

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posted on 2017-07-05, 00:00 authored by Tianlong Li, Jinxing Li, Konstantin I. Morozov, Zhiguang Wu, Tailin Xu, Isaac Rozen, Alexander M. Leshansky, Longqiu Li, Joseph Wang
The unique swimming strategies of natural microorganisms have inspired recent development of magnetic micro/nanorobots powered by artificial helical or flexible flagella. However, as artificial nanoswimmers with unique geometries are being developed, it is critical to explore new potential modes for kinetic optimization. For example, the freestyle stroke is the most efficient of the competitive swimming strokes for humans. Here we report a new type of magnetic nanorobot, a symmetric multilinked two-arm nanoswimmer, capable of efficient “freestyle” swimming at low Reynolds numbers. Excellent agreement between the experimental observations and theoretical predictions indicates that the powerful “freestyle” propulsion of the two-arm nanorobot is attributed to synchronized oscillatory deformations of the nanorobot under the combined action of magnetic field and viscous forces. It is demonstrated for the first time that the nonplanar propulsion gait due to the cooperative “freestyle” stroke of the two magnetic arms can be powered by a plane oscillatory magnetic field. These two-arm nanorobots are capable of a powerful propulsion up to 12 body lengths per second, along with on-demand speed regulation and remote navigation. Furthermore, the nonplanar propulsion gait powered by the consecutive swinging of the achiral magnetic arms is more efficient than that of common chiral nanohelical swimmers. This new swimming mechanism and its attractive performance opens new possibilities in designing remotely actuated nanorobots for biomedical operation at the nanoscale.