1 Experimental Physics, FR 7.2, Saarland University (UdS), Saarbrücken, Germany
2 Max Planck Institute for Dynamics and Self-Organization, Göttingen, Germany
Received: 24 February 2016
Revised: 20 April 2016
Published online: 10 November 2016
Self-propelled droplets are a special kind of self-propelled matter that are easily fabricated by standard microfluidic tools and locomote for a certain time without external sources of energy. The typical driving mechanism is a Marangoni flow due to gradients in the interfacial energy on the droplet interface. In this article we review the hydrodynamic prerequisites for self-sustained locomotion and present two examples to realize those conditions for emulsion droplets, i.e. droplets stabilized by a surfactant layer in a surrounding immiscible liquid. One possibility to achieve self-propelled motion relies on chemical reactions affecting the surface active properties of the surfactant molecules. The other relies on micellar solubilization of the droplet phase into the surrounding liquid phase. Remarkable cruising ranges can be achieved in both cases and the relative insensitivity to their own ‘exhausts’ allows to additionally study collective phenomena.
© The Author(s) 2016
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