Reconfigurable Disk-like Microswarm under a Sawtooth Magnetic Field

T Zhang and YG Deng and B Zhou and JY Liu and YF Su and M Li and WW Zhang, MICROMACHINES, 12, 1529 (2021).

DOI: 10.3390/mi12121529

Swarming robotic systems, which stem from insect swarms in nature, exhibit a high level of environmental adaptability and enhanced tasking capabilities for targeted delivery and micromanipulation. Here, we present a strategy that reconfigures paramagnetic nanoparticles into microswarms energized by a sawtooth magnetic field. A rotary-stepping magnetic-chain mechanism is proposed to address the forming principle of disk-like swarms. Based on programming the sawtooth field, the microswarm can perform reversible transformations between a disk, an ellipse and a ribbon, as well as splitting and merging. In addition, the swarms can be steered in any direction with excellent maneuverability and a high level of pattern stability. Under accurate manipulation of a magnetic microswarm, multiple microparts with complicated shapes were successfully combined into a complete assembly. This reconfigurable swarming microrobot may shed light on the understanding of complex morphological transformations in living systems and provide future practical applications of microfabrication and micromanipulation.

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