Shape-shifting Droplet Networks

Abstract

We consider a three-dimensional network of aqueous droplets joined by single lipid bilayers to form a cohesive, tissuelike material. The droplets in these networks can be programed to have distinct osmolarities so that osmotic gradients generate internal stresses via local fluid flows to cause the network to change shape. We discover, using molecular dynamics simulations, a reversible folding-unfolding process by adding an osmotic interaction with the surrounding environment which necessarily evolves dynamically as the shape of the network changes. This discovery is the next important step towards osmotic robotics in this system. We also explore analytically and numerically how the networks become faceted via buckling and how quasi-one-dimensional networks become three dimensional.

Publication
Physical Review Letters, 116 (10), 108301
Tao Zhang
Tao Zhang
Special Research Fellow