Pen-drawn Marangoni swimmer

Nat Commun. 2023 Jun 16;14(1):3597. doi: 10.1038/s41467-023-39186-x.


Pen-drawing is an intuitive, convenient, and creative fabrication method for delivering emergent and adaptive design to real devices. To demonstrate the application of pen-drawing to robot construction, we developed pen-drawn Marangoni swimmers that perform complex programmed tasks using a simple and accessible manufacturing process. By simply drawing on substrates using ink-based Marangoni fuel, the swimmers demonstrate advanced robotic motions such as polygon and star-shaped trajectories, and navigate through maze. The versatility of pen-drawing allows the integration of the swimmers with time-varying substrates, enabling multi-step motion tasks such as cargo delivery and return to the original place. We believe that our pen-based approach will significantly expand the potential applications of miniaturized swimming robots and provide new opportunities for simple robotic implementations.

MeSH terms

  • Motion
  • Robotics*
  • Swimming