Reorientation behavior in the helical motility of light-responsive spiral droplets

Federico Lancia, Takaki Yamamoto, Alexander Ryabchun, Tadatsugu Yamaguchi, Masaki Sano*, Nathalie Katsonis*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)
14 Downloads (Pure)


The physico-chemical processes supporting life’s purposeful movement remain essentially unknown. Self-propelling chiral droplets offer a minimalistic model of swimming cells and, in surfactant-rich water, droplets of chiral nematic liquid crystals follow the threads of a screw. We demonstrate that the geometry of their trajectory is determined by both the number of turns in, and the handedness of, their spiral organization. Using molecular motors as photo-invertible chiral dopants allows converting between right-handed and left-handed trajectories dynamically, and droplets subjected to such an inversion reorient in a direction that is also encoded by the number of spiral turns. This motile behavior stems from dynamic transmission of chirality, from the artificial molecular motors to the liquid crystal in confinement and eventually to the helical trajectory, in analogy with the chirality-operated motion and reorientation of swimming cells and unicellular organisms.

Original languageEnglish
Article number5238
JournalNature communications
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 20 Nov 2019

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