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Issue 2, 2021
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3-D swimming microdrone powered by acoustic bubbles

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Mobile microrobots that maneuver in liquid environments and navigate inside the human body have drawn a great interest due to their possibility for medical uses serving as an in vivo cargo. For this system, the effective self-propelling method, which should be powered wirelessly and controllable in 3-D space, is of paramount importance. This article describes a bubble-powered swimming microdrone that can navigate in 3-D space in a controlled manner. To enable 3-D propulsion with steering capability, air bubbles of three lengths are trapped in microtubes that are embedded and three-dimensionally aligned inside the drone body using two-photon polymerization. These bubbles can generate on-demand 3-D propulsion through microstreaming when they are selectively excited at their individual resonance frequencies that depend on the bubble sizes. In order to equip the drone with highly stable maneuverability, a non-uniform mass distribution of the drone body is carefully designed to spontaneously restore the drone to the upright position from disturbances. A mathematical model of the restoration mechanism is developed to predict the restoration behavior showing a good agreement with the experimental data. The present swimming microdrone potentially lends itself to a robust 3-D maneuverable microscale mobile cargo navigating in vitro and in vivo for biomedical applications.

Graphical abstract: 3-D swimming microdrone powered by acoustic bubbles

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Article information

25 Sep 2020
25 Nov 2020
First published
27 Nov 2020

Lab Chip, 2021,21, 355-364
Article type

3-D swimming microdrone powered by acoustic bubbles

F. Liu and S. K. Cho, Lab Chip, 2021, 21, 355
DOI: 10.1039/D0LC00976H

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