Self-propelling active particles are an exciting and interdisciplinary emerging area of research with projected biomedical and environmental applications. Due to their autonomous motion, control over these active particles that are free to travel along individual trajectories, is challenging. This work uses optically patterned electrodes on a photoconductive substrate using a digital micromirror device (DMD) to dynamically control the region of movement of self-propelling particles (i.e., metallo-dielectric Janus particles (JPs)). This extends previous studies where only a passive micromotor is optoelectronically manipulated with a translocating optical pattern that illuminates the particle. In contrast, the current system uses the optically patterned electrode merely to define the region within which the JPs moved autonomously. Interestingly, the JPs avoid crossing the optical region's edge, which enables constraint of the area of motion and to dynamically shape the JP trajectory. Using the DMD system to simultaneously manipulate several JPs enables to self-assemble the JPs into stable active structures (JPs ring) with precise control over the number of participating JPs and passive particles. Since the optoelectronic system is amenable to closed-loop operation using real-time image analysis, it enables exploitation of these active particles as active microrobots that can be operated in a programmable and parallelized manner.
- active particles
- directed self-assembly
- induced-charge electro-phoresis
- optoelectronic tweezer
- self-propelling particles