Magnetic propulsion of colloidal microrollers controlled by electrically modulated friction†
Precise control over the motion of magnetically responsive particles in fluidic chambers is important for probing and manipulating tasks in prospective microrobotic and bio-analytical platforms. We have previously exploited such colloids as shuttles for the microscale manipulation of objects. Here, we study the rolling motion of magnetically driven Janus colloids on solid substrates under the influence of an orthogonal external electric field. Electrically induced attractive interactions were used to tune the load on the Janus colloid and thereby the friction with the underlying substrate, leading to control over the forward velocity of the particle. Our experimental data suggest that the frictional coupling required to achieve translation, transitions from a hydrodynamic regime to one of mixed contact coupling with increasing load force. Based on this insight, we show that our colloidal microrobots can probe the local friction coefficient of various solid surfaces, which makes them potentially useful as tribological microsensors. Lastly, we precisely manipulate porous cargos using our colloidal rollers, a feat that holds promise for bio-analytical applications.