Light-Fueled Nonreciprocal Self-Oscillators for Fluidic Transportation and Coupling

Zixuan Deng, Hang Zhang, Arri Priimagi*, Hao Zeng*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)
1 Downloads (Pure)


Light-fueled self-oscillators based on soft actuating materials have triggered novel designs for small-scale robotic constructs that self-sustain their motion at non-equilibrium states and possess bioinspired autonomy and adaptive functions. However, the motions of most self-oscillators are reciprocal, which hinders their use in sophisticated biomimetic functions such as fluidic transportation. Here, an optically powered soft material strip that can perform nonreciprocal, cilia-like, self-sustained oscillation under water is reported. The actuator is made of planar-aligned liquid crystal elastomer responding to visible light. Two laser beams from orthogonal directions allow for piecewise control over the strip deformation, enabling two self-shadowing effects coupled in one single material to yield nonreciprocal strokes. The nonreciprocity, stroke pattern and handedness are connected to the fluidic pumping efficiency, which can be controlled by the excitation conditions. Autonomous microfluidic pumping in clockwise and anticlockwise directions, translocation of a micro-object by liquid propulsion, and coupling between two oscillating strips through liquid medium interaction are demonstrated. The results offer new concepts for non-equilibrium soft actuators that can perform bio-like functions under water.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2209683
JournalAdvanced Materials
Issue number12
Early online date3 Jan 2023
Publication statusPublished - 21 Mar 2024
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • artificial cilia
  • liquid crystal elastomer
  • micro-robots
  • nonreciprocal motion
  • photoactuator
  • self-sustained oscillation


Dive into the research topics of 'Light-Fueled Nonreciprocal Self-Oscillators for Fluidic Transportation and Coupling'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this