DOI: 10.1002/adma.202304759 ISSN:

Synchronous and Fully Steerable Active Particle Systems for Enhanced Mimicking of Collective Motion in Nature

Zhihan Chen, Hongru Ding, Pavana Siddhartha Kollipara, Jingang Li, Yuebing Zheng
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • General Materials Science


The collective motion observed in living active matter, such as fish schools and bird flocks, is characterized by its dynamic and complex nature, involving various moving states and transitions. By tailoring physical interactions or incorporating information exchange capabilities, inanimate active particles can exhibit similar behavior. However, the lack of synchronous and arbitrary control over individual particles hinders their use as a test system for the study of more intricate collective motions in living species. Herein, we propose a novel optical feedback control system that enables the mimicry of collective motion observed in living objects using active particles. This system allows for the experimental investigation of the velocity alignment, a seminal model of collective motion (known as the Vicsek model), in a microscale perturbed environment with controllable and realistic conditions. We observe the spontaneous formation of different moving states and dynamic transitions between these states. Additionally, we quantitatively validate the high robustness of the active‐particle group at the critical density under the influence of different perturbations. Our findings support the effectiveness of velocity alignment in real perturbed environments, thereby providing a versatile platform for fundamental studies on collective motion and the development of innovative swarm microrobotics.

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