Cilia metasurfaces for electronically programmable microfluidic manipulation
Cilial pumping is a powerful strategy used by biological organisms to control and manipulate fluids at the microscale. However, despite numerous recent advances in optically, magnetically and electrically driven actuation, development of an engineered cilial platform with the potential for applications has remained difficult to realize1–6. Here we report on active metasurfaces of electronically actuated artificial cilia that can create arbitrary flow patterns in liquids near a surface. We first create voltage-actuated cilia that generate non-reciprocal motions to drive surface flows at tens of microns per second at actuation voltages of 1 volt. We then show that a cilia unit cell can locally create a range of elemental flow geometries. By combining these unit cells, we create an active cilia metasurface that can generate and switch between any desired surface flow pattern. Finally, we integrate the cilia with a light-powered complementary metal–oxide–semiconductor (CMOS) clock circuit to demonstrate wireless operation. As a proof of concept, we use this circuit to output voltage pulses with various phase delays to demonstrate improved pumping efficiency using metachronal waves. These powerful results, demonstrated experimentally and confirmed using theoretical computations, illustrate a pathway towards fine-scale microfluidic manipulation, with applications from microfluidic pumping to microrobotic locomotion. © 2022, The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Nature Limited.