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Self-Propulsion of Droplets via Light-Stimuli Rapid Control of Their Surface Tension

submitted on 13.04.2021, 11:35 and posted on 15.04.2021, 05:44 by Anna Yucknovsky, Benjamin B. Rich, Ariel Westfried, Boaz Pokroy, Nadav Amdursky
Biology demonstrates many examples of response and adaptation to external stimuli, and here we focus on self-propulsion (motion) while presenting several self-propelling droplet systems responsive to pH gradients. We use light as the gating source to gain reversibility, avoid the formation of chemical wastes, and control the self-propulsion remotely. To achieve light-stimuli ultra-fast response, we use photoacids and photobases, capable of donating or capturing a proton, respectively, in their excited-state. We control the movement and directionality of the droplet’s self-propulsion by introducing the photo-acid/base either in bulk solution, on the surface of the droplet, or inside the droplet. We show that proton transfer between the photo-acid/base and the droplet results in a rapid change in the droplet’s surface tension, which induces the self?propulsion movement. The high versatility of our systems together with a record-breaking ultra?fast response to light makes them highly attractive for the design of various controlled cargo?carrier systems.


US-Israel Binational Science Foundation

Ministry of Science and Technology, Israel


Email Address of Submitting Author


Technion - Israel Institute of Technology



ORCID For Submitting Author


Declaration of Conflict of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest