Simultaneous polydirectional transport of colloidal bipeds

M. Mirzaee-Kakhki, A. Ernst, D. de las Heras, M. Urbaniak, F. Stobiecki, J. Gördes, M. Reginka, A. Ehresmann & T. M. Fischer
Nat. Commun., 11, 4670, (2020)     DOI: 10.1038/s41467-020-18467-9
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Detailed control over the motion of colloidal particles is relevant in many applications in colloidal science such as lab-on-a-chip devices. Here, we use an external magnetic field to assemble paramagnetic colloidal spheres into colloidal rods of several lengths. The rods reside above a square magnetic pattern and are transported via modulation of the direction of the external magnetic field. The rods behave like bipeds walking above the pattern. Depending on their length, the bipeds perform topologically distinct classes of protected walks. We design parallel polydirectional modulation loops of the external field that command up to six classes of bipeds to walk on distinct predesigned paths. Using such loops, we induce the collision of reactant bipeds, their polymerization addition reaction to larger bipeds, the separation of product bipeds from the educts, the sorting of different product bipeds, and also the parallel writing of a word consisting of several letters. Our ideas and methodology might be transferred to other systems for which topological protection is at work.

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