Microswimmers Image
Heavy metallic microswimmers, made of rhodium (purple) and gold, swim around in a liquid solution. When confronting a sloped wall, each rod-like swimmer will reorient its body upward due to its density imbalance, and swims up like a rock climber against gravity. (Image: Jun Zhang, NYU's Courant Institute and NYU’s Department of Physics)

A team of scientists has uncovered how heavy, motorized objects climb steep slopes — a newly discovered mechanism that also mimics how rock climbers navigate inclines. The “micro-swimmers” are about 20 times heavier than the fluid they swim in but they were able to climb steep slopes that are almost vertical.

The swimmers were composed of two types of metal — a makeup that gave them unbalanced densities given the varying weights of these metals. When confronting a sloped wall, each rod-like swimmer reorients its body upward due to its density imbalance and swims up like a rock climber against gravity.

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