Congratulations to Loic Jacot-Descombes, Massimo Mastrangeli and Maurizio R. Gullo who co-authored a nice paper in collaboration with ETH that also made it to the cover page of Nanoscale.
We present the fabrication and characterization of large arrays of inkjet-printed superparamagnetic polymer composite (SPMPC) hemispherical microstructures. SPMPCs are appealing for applications in microsystems and nanorobotics due to the added functionality of polymers and the significant magnetic attributes of embedded nanostructures. SPMPC-based microarchitectures can be used to perform different functions wirelessly in various media (e.g. water, solvents) using external magnetic fields: handling and assembling small objects, delivering drugs or biomass, or sensing specific physical or chemical changes. In this work superparamagnetic magnetite nanoparticles are dispersed in SU-8 to form magnetic hemispheres. Magnetically anisotropic hemispheres as well as standard SPMPC hemispheres are fabricated. Magnetic anisotropy is programmed by applying a magnetic field during curing. The distribution of nanoparticles inside the polymer matrix and magnetic characteristics of the SPMPC are investigated. Magnetic manipulation of hemispheres is demonstrated at liquid–liquid interfaces. Different assembly strategies to form lines or geometric shapes from hemispheres as well as their independent dynamic control are demonstrated. Finally, a two-interface assembly strategy is demonstrated to assemble hemispheres into complete spheres for advanced self-assembly tasks.