Wednesday, April 17, 2013

1304.4277 (Robert W. Style et al.)

Patterning droplets with durotaxis    [PDF]

Robert W. Style, Yonglu Che, Su Ji Park, Byung Mook Weon, Jung Ho Je, Callen Hyland, Guy K. German, Michael Power, Larry A. Wilen, John S. Wettlaufer, Eric R. Dufresne
Numerous cell-types have shown a remarkable ability to detect and move along gradients in stiffness of an underlying substrate -- a process known as durotaxis. The mechanisms underlying durotaxis are still unresolved, but generally believed to involve active sensing and locomotion. Here, we show that simple liquid droplets also undergo durotaxis. By modulating substrate stiffness, we obtain fine control of droplet position on soft, flat substrates. Unlike other control mechanisms, droplet durotaxis works without imposing chemical, thermal, electrical or topographical gradients. This enables a new approach to large-scale droplet patterning and is potentially useful for many applications, such as microfluidics, thermal control and microfabrication.
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