High-speed transport of liquid droplets in magnetic tubular microactuators

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Science Advances  21 Dec 2018:
Vol. 4, no. 12, eaau8767
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aau8767


Magnetic field–induced droplet actuation has attracted substantial research interest in recent years. However, current magnetic-controlled liquids depend primarily on magnetic particles added to a droplet, which serves as the actuator on an open surface. These liquids inevitably suffer from droplet splitting with the magnetic particles or disengaging with the magnet, possibly leading to sample contamination, which severely limits their transport speed and practical applications. Here, we report a simple and additive-free method to fabricate magnetic tubular microactuators for manipulating liquid droplets by magnetism-induced asymmetric deformation, which generates an adjustable capillary force to propel liquids. These magnetic tubular microactuators can drive various liquid droplets with controllable velocity and direction. A speed of 10 cm s−1 can be achieved, representing the highest speed of liquid motion driven by an external stimulus–induced capillary force in a closed tube found so far.

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