When soft ferromagnetic particles are suspended at air-water interfaces in the presence of a vertical magnetic field, dipole-dipole repulsion competes with capillary attraction such that 2d structures self-assemble. The complex arrangements of such floating bodies are emphasized. The equilibrium distance between particles exhibits hysteresis when the applied magnetic field is modified. Irreversible processes are evidenced. By adding a horizontal and oscillating magnetic field, periodic deformations of the assembly are induced. We show herein that collective particle motions induce locomotion at low Reynolds number. The physical mechanisms and geometrical ingredients behind this cooperative locomotion are identified. These physical mechanisms can be exploited to much smaller scales, offering the possibility to create artificial and versatile microscopic swimmers.
Moreover, we show that it is possible to generate complex structures that are able to capture particles, perform cargo transport, fluid mixing, etc.
- Industrial and Applied Mathematics Seminar