Physicists create 3-D printed microboat

3-D printed microboat
Credit: Leiden University

From prow to stern, this little boat measures 30 micrometers, about a third of the thickness of a hair. It has been 3-D-printed by Leiden physicists Rachel Doherty, Daniela Kraft and colleagues.

The image was made using an and can be found in their article about 3-D printing synthetic microswimmers in the Soft Matter.


Kraft's research group researches microswimmers, moving in fluids like water, that can be followed using a microscope. One of their goals is understanding biological microswimmers, such as bacteria.

Most research of this type is carried out on sphere shaped particles, but 3-D printing offers new possibilities, as the researchers show in this article. They also printed spiral shaped particles, which rotate along while they are propelled through water.


The microboat doesn't have a propellor. 3DBenchy is a standard 3-D design for testing 3-D-printers. The group's new Nanoscribe Photonic Professional printer has passed this test with flying colors, while establishing a new record building the smallest ship on Earth (which is even able to set sail in water).

More information: Rachel P. Doherty et al. Catalytically propelled 3D printed colloidal microswimmers, Soft Matter (2020). DOI: 10.1039/D0SM01320J

Journal information: Soft Matter

Provided by Leiden University

Citation: Physicists create 3-D printed microboat (2020, October 22) retrieved 11 December 2023 from
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