Magnetically actuated propulsion at low Reynolds numbers: towards nanoscale control

Nanoscale. 2011 Feb;3(2):557-63. doi: 10.1039/c0nr00566e. Epub 2010 Dec 10.


Significant progress has been made in the fabrication of micron and sub-micron structures whose motion can be controlled in liquids under ambient conditions. The aim of many of these engineering endeavors is to be able to build and propel an artificial micro-structure that rivals the versatility of biological swimmers of similar size, e.g. motile bacterial cells. Applications for such artificial "micro-bots" are envisioned to range from microrheology to targeted drug delivery and microsurgery, and require full motion-control under ambient conditions. In this Mini-Review we discuss the construction, actuation, and operation of several devices that have recently been reported, especially systems that can be controlled by and propelled with homogenous magnetic fields. We describe the fabrication and associated experimental challenges and discuss potential applications.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Catalysis
  • Magnetics*
  • Magnetospirillum / metabolism
  • Magnetospirillum / physiology
  • Nanotechnology*
  • Nanotubes / chemistry