Bubble-driven microsystems inspired by the therapeutic use of microbubbles under clinical ultrasound actuation offer innovative remote manipulation in biological settings. Ultrasound-powered microrobots, benefiting from a distribution of vibrating microbubbles (1–100 μm in diameters), exhibit localized fluid flow for self-propulsion. Microbubbles also contribute to the design of acoustic metamaterials, where distributed actuation of bubbles enables exotic material properties (e.g., negative refractive index). Herein, a metamaterial-inspired microrobot design, which exploits the streaming induced by the collective oscillation of microbubble arrays (> 10), is reported. Such a large distribution of bubbles offers twofold advantages: a mesoscale microrobot allowing ease of handling and motion at a considerably low acoustic driving pressure of 50 kPa. In this work, the oscillatory amplitude of a single bubble that acts as a unit cell of the metamaterial-based microrobot is first characterized. Thereon, this amplitude is related to the flow generated by the collective vibration of all the bubbles close to the theoretically predicted resonant frequency of the bubbles. Finally, the hovering motion of the microrobot induced by the streaming and flow-assisted debris clearance is demonstrated. Such auxiliary functionalities of the microrobot can be useful for applications like contactless sample extraction in inaccessible biological environments.

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Adv. Intell. Syst

Mohanty, S. (Sumit), Lin, Y.-H., Paul, A., van den Broek, M., Segers, T., & Misra, S. (2023). Acoustically Actuated Flow in Microrobots Powered by Axisymmetric Resonant Bubbles. Adv. Intell. Syst, 2300465: 1–12. doi:10.1002/aisy.202300465