Light-Triggered Inflation of Microdroplets

Adam W. Hauser, Qintian Zhou, Paul M. Chaikin, Stefano Sacanna

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Driven systems composed largely of droplets and fuel make up a significant portion of microbiological function. At the micrometer scale, fully synthetic systems that perform an array of tasks within a uniform bulk are much more rare. In this work, we introduce an innovative design for solid-in-oil composite microdroplets. These microdroplets are engineered to nucleate an internal phase, undergo inflation, and eventually burst, all powered by a steady and uniform energy input. We show that by altering the background input, volumetric change and burst time can be tuned. When the inflated droplets release the inner contents, colloidal particles are shown to transiently attract to the release point. Lastly, we show that the system has the ability to perform multiple inflation-burst cycles. We anticipate that our conceptual design of internally powered microdroplets will catalyze further research into autonomous systems capable of intricate communication as well as inspire the development of advanced, responsive materials.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3970-3975
Number of pages6
JournalChemistry of Materials
Issue number8
StatePublished - Apr 23 2024

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Chemistry
  • General Chemical Engineering
  • Materials Chemistry


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