Droplets in underlying chemical communication recreate cell interaction behaviors.
Pizarro, A. D., Berli, C. L. A., Soler-Illia, Gjaa and Bellino, M. G.
Instituto de Nanosistemas, UNSAM-CONICET, Av. 25 de Mayo 1021, 1650 San Martin, Buenos Aires, Argentina.
INTEC (Universidad Nacional del Litoral-CONICET) Predio CCT CONICET Santa Fe, RN 168, 3000, Santa Fe, Argentina.
Instituto de Nanociencia y Nanotecnologia (CNEA-CONICET), Av. Gral. Paz 1499, San Martin, Buenos Aires, Argentina. mbellino@cnea.gov.ar.
The sensory-motor interaction is a hallmark of living systems. However, developing inanimate systems with "recognize and attack" abilities remains challenging. On the other hand, controlling the inter-droplet dynamics on surfaces is key in microengineering and biomedical applications. We show here that a pair of droplets can become intelligently interactive (chemospecific stimulus-response inter-droplet autonomous operation) when placed on a nanoporous thin film surface. We find an attacker-victim-like non-reciprocal interaction between spatially separated droplets leading to an only-in-one shape instability that triggers a drop projection to selectively couple, resembling cellular phenomenologies such as pseudopod emission and phagocytic-like functions. The nanopore-driven underlying communication and associated chemical activity are the main physical ingredients behind the observed behavior. Our results reveal that basic features found in many living cell types can emerge from a simple two-droplet framework. This work is a promising step towards the design of microfluidic smart robotics and for origin-of-life protocell models.
Nat Commun 13(1): 3047 (2022)