The aim of the present study relies on the potential to control the motion of a polymer gel microrod by means of a suitable electric field. It is well known that a polyelectrolyte gel can change its conformation under the effects of an electric field. Inducing a local deformation in a gel rod, it is possible to propagate the deformation along the gel rod itself, shjfting it in the same direction as the electric field. This technique, which can be viewed as a sort of wave propagation method, can be used to perform a controlled translational motion of the whole gel body. A simple device has been designed to provide the desired application of the electric field and to study the gel microstructure response. Experimental measurements characterizing the main electro-kinetic properties of the polymer gel have been carried out, and the related results used in the simulation of the gel motion. Finally, real motion experiments have been performed. Both theoretical and experimental results show that this novel technique can induce and control the translational motion of a polymer gel microrod, but that a high degree of miniaturization of the system is still required to achieve reliability and performance necessary in technological and scientific applications.
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