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Self-Propelled Microswimmer Actuated by Stimuli-Sensitive Bilayered Hydrogel

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posted on 20.01.2015, 00:00 by Svetoslav V. Nikolov, Peter D. Yeh, Alexander Alexeev
Using computational modeling, we design a microscopic swimmer made of a bilayered responsive hydrogel capable of swimming in a viscous fluid when actuated by a periodically applied stimulus. The gel has an X-shaped geometry and two bonded layers, one of which is responsive to environmental changes and the other which is passive. When the stimulus is turned on, the responsive layer swells and causes the swimmer to deform. We demonstrate that when such stimulus-induced deformations occur periodically the gel swimmer effectively propels forward through the fluid. We show that the swimming speed depends on the relative stiffness of the two gel layers composing the swimmer, and we determine the optimal stiffness ratio that maximizes the swimming speed.