We present a hardware setup and a set of executable commands for spatiotemporal programming and interactive control of a swarm of self-propelled microscopic agents inside a microfluidic chip. In particular, local and global spatiotemporal light stimuli are used to direct the motion of ensembles of Euglena gracilis, a unicellular phototactic organism. We develop three levels of programming abstractions (stimulus space, swarm space, and system space) to create a scripting language for directing swarms. We then implement a multi-level proof-of-concept biotic game using these commands to demonstrate their utility. These device and programming concepts will enhance our capabilities for manipulating natural and synthetic swarms, with future applications for on-chip processing, diagnostics, education, and research on collective behaviors.
- This article is part of the themed collection: Lab on a Chip Recent Open Access Articles