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Autonomous droplet architectures

Jones, Gareth, King, Philip H., Morgan, Hywel, de Planque, Maurits R.R. and Zauner, Klaus-Peter (2015) Autonomous droplet architectures Artificial Life, 21, (2), pp. 195-204. (PMID:25622015).

Record type: Article


The quintessential living element of all organisms is the cell—a fluid-filled compartment enclosed, but not isolated, by a layer of amphiphilic molecules that self-assemble at its boundary. Cells of different composition can aggregate and communicate through the exchange of molecules across their boundaries. The astounding success of this architecture is readily apparent throughout the biological world. Inspired by the versatility of nature's architecture, we investigate aggregates of membrane-enclosed droplets as a design concept for robotics. This will require droplets capable of sensing, information processing, and actuation. It will also require the integration of functionally specialized droplets into an interconnected functional unit. Based on results from the literature and from our own laboratory, we argue the viability of this approach. Sensing and information processing in droplets have been the subject of several recent studies, on which we draw. Integrating droplets into coherently acting units and the aspect of controlled actuation for locomotion have received less attention. This article describes experiments that address both of these challenges. Using lipid-coated droplets of Belousov-Zhabotinsky reaction medium in oil, we show here that such droplets can be integrated and that chemically driven mechanical motion can be achieved.

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Accepted/In Press date: 5 January 2015
Published date: 22 May 2015
Organisations: Nanoelectronics and Nanotechnology, Agents, Interactions & Complexity


Local EPrints ID: 364114
PURE UUID: e3eda323-7d11-4489-9102-9c30b90bd2bc
ORCID for Hywel Morgan: ORCID iD
ORCID for Maurits R.R. de Planque: ORCID iD

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Date deposited: 04 Apr 2014 10:19
Last modified: 11 Aug 2017 08:49

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Author: Gareth Jones
Author: Philip H. King
Author: Hywel Morgan ORCID iD
Author: Klaus-Peter Zauner

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