Underwater self-powered micro-swimmers have several biomedical and environmental applications, such as drug delivery and pathogen elimination in water. Therefore, there is a need for propulsion mechanisms that operate well in the low Reynolds number regimen. We propose a mechanism that uses resonating water-air interfaces to generate underwater propulsion, and electrolysis as a control mechanism. This way, an external field can be used as a power source while control occurs at the device level. It is known that, when actuated by ultrasound waves near its resonance frequency, a bubble interface generates a net streaming flow. Although this mechanism has been used for micro-swimmers in the 10s of microns, a truly controllable device has not yet been achieved. We propose electrical control of such phenomenon through electrolysis (bubble creation and catalysis) and AC electrowetting-on-dielectric (EWOD). Current efforts focus on demonstrating selective activation of propeller sites and developing a low voltage EWOD process.
Project ended: 08/05/2021