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Artificial Nano-Swimmers

A major research thrust in the group led by Prof. Ambarish Ghosh is to power and control the motion of nanoscale objects in different fluids with small, homogeneous magnetic fields. 

Since motion at small length scales is dominated by viscosity, the usual methods of macroscale swimming cannot lead to net locomotion; therefore one needs to be careful in designing the shapes and symmetries of the nanoscale objects to be maneuvered. Common strategies are often based on mimicking the shapes and swimming methods of micro-organisms, such as the corkscrew motion of bacterial flagella and the flexible oar-like motion of spermatozoa. The strategy adopted by our group is based on the corkscrew motion of ferromagnetic helical nanostructures induced with a rotating magnetic field, which caused the nanostructure to rotate and therefore propel. These magnetic nanopropellers can have important biological applications such as biomicro-rheological measurements and drug delivery, and provide a rich platform to study novel phenomena in soft condensed matter physics and low Reynolds number hydrodynamics.

 

Figure: SEM image of the helical nanoswimmers

 

Associate Professor