Spatiotemporal control of cargo delivery performed by programmable self-propelled Janus droplets

Menglin Li, Martin Brinkmann, Ignacio Pagonabarraga, Ralf Seemann, Jean-Baptiste Fleury

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)
6 Downloads (Pure)


Self-propelled droplets capable of transporting cargo to specific target locations are desired tools for many future applications. Here we propose a class of active droplets with programmable delivery time that are attracted or repelled by certain obstacle geometries. These droplets consist of a water/ethanol mixture and are dispersed in an oil/surfactant solution. Owing to a mass exchange between fluid phases during self-propulsion, the initially homogeneous droplets spontaneously de-mix and evolve into characteristic Janus droplets. Cargo molecules, like DNA, can be separated into the trailing ethanol-rich droplet and are carried to their target location “like in a backpack”. The delayed onset of phase separation provides a handle to control the time frame of delivery, while long-ranged hydrodynamic interactions and short-ranged wetting forces are exploited to achieve the desired spatial specificity with respect to obstacle geometry and surface chemistry.
Original languageEnglish
Article number23
Number of pages8
JournalCommunications Physics
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 7 Jun 2018


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