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Metamachines of pluripotent colloids


Machines enabled the Industrial Revolution and are central to modern technological progress: A machine's parts transmit forces, motion, and energy to one another in a predetermined manner. Today's engineering frontier, building artificial micromachines that emulate the biological machinery of living organisms, requires faithful assembly and energy consumption at the microscale. Here, we demonstrate the programmable assembly of active particles into autonomous metamachines using optical templates. Metamachines, or machines made of machines, are stable, mobile and autonomous architectures, whose dynamics stems from the geometry. We use the interplay between anisotropic force generation of the active colloids with the control of their orientation by local geometry. This allows autonomous reprogramming of active particles of the metamachines to achieve multiple functions. It permits the modular assembly of metamachines by fusion, reconfiguration of metamachines and, we anticipate, a shift in focus of self-assembly towards active matter and reprogrammable materials.

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