Scientists in the US and Slovenia have built a tiny swimming robot that paddles using liquid crystals. Kathleen Stebe of the University of Pennsylvania, alongside collaborators at the University of Ljubljana, studied rotating microparticles embedded in a liquid crystal. They discovered that the rotation triggers sudden rearrangements of the surrounding liquid crystal molecules, which acts as a swim stroke and propels the microrobot. In papers published in Science Advances and Advanced Functional Materials, they investigate this propulsion and use it to build a cargo carrying functional nanorobot.
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