Shape-programmed 3D printed swimming microtori for the transport of passive and active agents

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


  • Remmi Danae Baker
  • Anton D. Sediako
  • Murray J. Thomson
  • Ayusman Sen
  • Eric Lauga
  • Igor S. Aranson

Colleges, School and Institutes

External organisations

  • Pennsylvania State University
  • University of Toronto
  • University of Cambridge


Through billions of years of evolution, microorganisms mastered unique swimming behaviors to thrive in complex fluid environments. Limitations in nanofabrication have thus far hindered the ability to design and program synthetic swimmers with the same abilities. Here we encode multi-behavioral responses in microscopic self-propelled tori using nanoscale 3D printing. We show experimentally and theoretically that the tori continuously transition between two primary swimming modes in response to a magnetic field. The tori also manipulated and transported other artificial swimmers, bimetallic nanorods, as well as passive colloidal particles. In the first behavioral mode, the tori accumulated and transported nanorods; in the second mode, nanorods aligned along the toriʼs self-generated streamlines. Our results indicate that such shape-programmed microswimmers have a potential to manipulate biological active matter, e.g. bacteria or cells.


Original languageEnglish
Article number4932
JournalNature Communications
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2019