Dual Droplet Functionality: Phototaxis and Photopolymerization
The use of phototaxis to move droplets in liquids offers the opportunity to emulate natural processes such as the controlled transport of materials in fluidic environments and to undertake chemistry at specific locations. We have developed a photoactive organic droplet, whose movement in aqueous solution is driven by a photoinitiator, as a result of a light-induced reaction within the droplet generating a Marangoni flow. The photoinitiator not only drives the droplet motion but can also be used to initiate polymerization following transfer of the droplet to a specific location and its merging with a monomer-containing droplet. The same light is used to control the transport of the droplet and the polymerization. The efficacy of this droplet transport and reactor system has been demonstrated by the site-specific underwater polymerization of N-isopropylacrylamide to repair a leaking vessel and the adhesion of two materials together.