Furcated droplet motility on crystalline surfaces

Xin Tang, Wei Li, Liqiu Wang

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

43 Citations (Scopus)


Directed liquid motion has been conventionally mediated by functionalizing chemical inhomogeneity or texturing topological anisotropy on target surfaces. Here we show the self-propulsion of droplets that furcated in well-defined directions on piezoelectric single crystals in the absence of any apparent asymmetry or external force. By selecting the crystal plane to interface with the droplets, the thermoelastic–piezoelectric interplay yields intricate electric potential profiles, enabling various forms of self-propulsion including unidirectional, bifurcated and trifurcated. This effect originates from an anisotropic crystalline structure that generates contrasting macroscopic liquid behaviours and is observed with cold/hot and volatile droplets. Intrinsically oriented liquid motions have broad applicability in processes ranging from soft matter engineering, autonomous material delivery and thermal management to biochemical analysis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1106-1112
Number of pages7
JournalNature Nanotechnology
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2021
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Bioengineering
  • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • General Materials Science
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


Dive into the research topics of 'Furcated droplet motility on crystalline surfaces'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this