Gravitaxis in Spherical Janus Swimming Devices


In this work, we show that the asymmetrical distribution of mass at the surface of catalytic Janus swimmers results in the devices preferentially propelling themselves upward in a gravitational field. We demonstrate the existence of this gravitaxis phenomenon by observing the trajectories of fueled Janus swimmers, which generate thrust along a vector pointing away from their metallically coated half. We report that as the size of the spherical swimmer increases, the propulsive trajectories are no longer isotropic with respect to gravity, and they start to show a pronounced tendency to move in an upward direction. We suggest that this effect is due to the platinum caps asymmetric mass exerting an increasing influence on the azimuthal angle of the Janus sphere with size, biasing its orientation toward a configuration where the heavier propulsion generating surface faces down. This argument is supported by the good agreement we find between the experimentally observed azimuthal angle distribution for the Janus swimmers and predictions made by simple Boltzmann statistics. This gravitaxis phenomenon provides a mechanism to autonomously control and direct the motion of catalytic swimming devices and so enable a route to make autonomous transport devices and develop new separation, sensing, and controlled release applications

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oai:figshare.com:article/2026689Last time updated on 2/12/2018

This paper was published in FigShare.

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