Colloidal caterpillars for cargo transportation†
Tunable transport of tiny objects in fluid systems is demanding in diverse fields of science such as drug delivery, active matter far from equilibrium, and lab-on-a-chip applications. Here, we report the directed motion of colloidal particles and self-assembled colloidal chains in a nematic liquid crystal matrix using electrohydrodynamic convection (EHC) rolls. The asymmetric distortion of the molecular orientation around the particles results – for single particles – in a hopping motion from one EHC roll to the next and – for colloidal chains – in a caterpillar-like motion in the direction perpendicular to the roll axes. We demonstrate the use of colloidal chains as microtraction engines for the transport of various types of microcargo.