Research ArticleMATERIALS SCIENCE

Reconfigurable structure and tunable transport in synchronized active spinner materials

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Science Advances  20 Mar 2020:
Vol. 6, no. 12, eaaz8535
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aaz8535

Abstract

Ensembles of actuated colloids are excellent model systems to explore emergent out-of-equilibrium structures, complex collective dynamics, and design rules for the next generation materials. Here, we demonstrate that ferromagnetic microparticles suspended at an air-water interface and energized by an external rotating magnetic field spontaneously form dynamic ensembles of synchronized spinners in a certain range of the excitation field parameters. Each spinner generates strong hydrodynamic flows, and collective interactions of the multiple spinners promote a formation of dynamic lattices. On the basis of experiments and simulations, we reveal structural transitions from liquid to nearly crystalline states in this novel active spinner material and demonstrate that dynamic spinner lattices are reconfigurable, capable of self-healing behavior and that the transport of embedded inert cargo particles can be remotely tuned by the parameters of the external excitation field. Our findings provide insights into the behavior of active spinner materials with reconfigurable structural order and tunable functionalities.

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