Three-dimensional electronic microfliers inspired by wind-dispersed seeds

Bong Hoon Kim, Kan Li, Jin Tae Kim, Yoonseok Park, Hokyung Jang, Xueju Wang, Zhaoqian Xie, Sang Min Won, Hong Joon Yoon, Geumbee Lee, Woo Jin Jang, Kun Hyuck Lee, Ted S. Chung, Yei Hwan Jung, Seung Yun Heo, Yechan Lee, Juyun Kim, Tengfei Cai, Yeonha Kim, Poom PrasopsukhYongjoon Yu, Xinge Yu, Raudel Avila, Haiwen Luan, Honglie Song, Feng Zhu, Ying Zhao, Lin Chen, Seung Ho Han, Jiwoong Kim, Soong Ju Oh, Heon Lee, Chi Hwan Lee, Yonggang Huang, Leonardo P. Chamorro, Yihui Zhang, John A. Rogers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

87 Citations (Scopus)


Large, distributed collections of miniaturized, wireless electronic devices1,2 may form the basis of future systems for environmental monitoring3, population surveillance4, disease management5 and other applications that demand coverage over expansive spatial scales. Aerial schemes to distribute the components for such networks are required, and—inspired by wind-dispersed seeds6—we examined passive structures designed for controlled, unpowered flight across natural environments or city settings. Techniques in mechanically guided assembly of three-dimensional (3D) mesostructures7–9 provide access to miniature, 3D fliers optimized for such purposes, in processes that align with the most sophisticated production techniques for electronic, optoelectronic, microfluidic and microelectromechanical technologies. Here we demonstrate a range of 3D macro-, meso- and microscale fliers produced in this manner, including those that incorporate active electronic and colorimetric payloads. Analytical, computational and experimental studies of the aerodynamics of high-performance structures of this type establish a set of fundamental considerations in bio-inspired design, with a focus on 3D fliers that exhibit controlled rotational kinematics and low terminal velocities. An approach that represents these complex 3D structures as discrete numbers of blades captures the essential physics in simple, analytical scaling forms, validated by computational and experimental results. Battery-free, wireless devices and colorimetric sensors for environmental measurements provide simple examples of a wide spectrum of applications of these unusual concepts.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)503-510
Number of pages8
Issue number7877
Publication statusPublished - 2021 Sept 23

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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