Acoustically-actuated bubble-powered rotational micro-propellers

Sumit Mohanty*, Jiena Zhang, Jeffrey M. McNeill, Thom Kuenen, Frederic P. Linde, Jeroen Rouwkema, Sarthak Misra*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)
36 Downloads (Pure)


Bubble-powered acoustic microsystems span a plethora of applications that range from lab-on-chip diagnostic platforms to targeted interventions as microrobots. Numerous studies strategize this bubble-powered mechanism to generate autonomous self-propulsion of microrobots in response to high frequency sound waves. Herein, we present two micro-propeller designs which contain an axis-symmetric distribution of entrapped bubbles that vibrate to induce fast rotational motion. Our micro-propellers are synthesized using 3D Direct Laser Writing and chemically-functionalized to selectively trap air bubbles at their micro-cavities which function as propulsion units. These rotational acoustic micro-propellers offer a dual advantage of being used as mobile microfluidic mixers, and as autonomous microrobots for targeted manipulation. With regards to targeted manipulation, we demonstrate magneto-acoustic actuation of our first propeller design that can be steered to a desired location to perform rotational motion. Furthermore, our second propeller design comprises of a helical arrangement of bubble-filled cavities which makes it suitable for spatial micro-mixing. Our acoustic propellers can reach speeds of up to 400 RPM (rotations per minute) without requiring any direct contact with a vibrating substrate in contrast to the state-of-the-art rotary acoustic microsystems.

Original languageEnglish
Article number130589
Number of pages7
JournalSensors and Actuators B: Chemical
Early online date12 Aug 2021
Publication statusPublished - 15 Nov 2021


  • Acoustic streaming
  • Acoustofluidics
  • Bubble-powered motors
  • Microrobotics
  • Minimally-invasive surgeries
  • Self-propulsion
  • Ultrasound
  • UT-Hybrid-D


Dive into the research topics of 'Acoustically-actuated bubble-powered rotational micro-propellers'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this