Self-assembly of gears at a fluid/air interface

J Am Chem Soc. 2003 Jul 2;125(26):7948-58. doi: 10.1021/ja0347235.


This paper describes a dynamic system-a system that develops order only when dissipating energy-comprising millimeter to centimeter scale gears that self-assemble into a simple machine at a fluid/air interface. The gears are driven externally and indirectly by magnetic interactions; they are made of poly(dimethylsiloxane) (PDMS) or magnetically doped PDMS, and fabricated by soft lithography. Transfer of torque between gears can take place through three different mechanisms: mechanical interaction, hydrodynamic shear, and capillarity/overlap of menisci. Interplay between these forces allows interactions and motions that are not possible with conventional systems of gears.