Studying mechanical deformation at the surface of soft materials has been challenging due to the difficulty in separating surface deformation from the bulk elasticity of the materials. Here, we introduce a new approach for studying the surface mechanical deformation of a soft material by utilizing a large number of self-propelled microprobes driven by motor proteins on the surface of the material. Information about the surface mechanical deformation of the soft material is obtained through changes in mobility of the microprobes wandering across the surface of the soft material. The active microprobes respond to mechanical deformation of the surface and readily change their velocity and direction depending on the extent and mode of surface deformation. This highly parallel and reliable method of sensing mechanical deformation at the surface of soft materials is expected to find applications that explore surface mechanics of soft materials and consequently would greatly benefit the surface science.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Physics and Astronomy(all)