The Black Sheep Pub
3007 Concord Pike
University of Pennsylvania
“How Do You Make a Micro-Robot?”
Engines and motors are everywhere in the modern world, but it is a challenge to make them work if they are very small. On the micron length scale, inertial forces are weak and so conventional motor designs involving, e.g., pistons or flywheels cease to function. Biological motors work by a different principle and use catalysis to convert chemical to mechanical energy. Together with Ayusman Sen and other colleagues at Penn and Penn State we are exploring the use of chemical forces to power synthetic microswimmers and pumps. This talk will describe some of the unexpected lessons learned in pursuing this simple idea, as well as emerging applications.