Fuelling the motion of droplets

By controlling the movement of droplets using light, scientists have paved the way for a range of new applications

A novel technique that uses light to control the movement of materials in three dimensions through a liquid has been developed, opening the door to new applications from diagnostics to drug delivery.

Droplets that either move autonomously or are driven by chemical, thermal or electrical stimuli are promising for new applications. However, controlling droplet movement in three dimensions has proved challenging.

Now, an international team, including researchers from the University of Wollongong in Australia, has shown that a droplet containing a photoactive material — a chemical ‘fuel’ — can be steered by visible and ultraviolet light.

By using light to induce changes in the interfacial surface tension between different fluids, they were able to transport the droplet towards or away from the light source, paving the way for new devices for diagnostics and drug delivery.

This article was first published by Springer Nature. Read the original article here.