Self-propelled nanotools

ACS Nano. 2012 Feb 28;6(2):1751-6. doi: 10.1021/nn204762w. Epub 2012 Jan 19.


We describe nanoscale tools in the form of autonomous and remotely guided catalytically self-propelled InGaAs/GaAs/(Cr)Pt tubes. These rolled-up tubes with diameters in the range of 280-600 nm move in hydrogen peroxide solutions with speeds as high as 180 μm s(-1). The effective transfer of chemical energy to translational motion has allowed these tubes to perform useful tasks such as transport of cargo. Furthermore, we observed that, while cylindrically rolled-up tubes move in a straight line, asymmetrically rolled-up tubes move in a corkscrew-like trajectory, allowing these tubes to drill and embed themselves into biomaterials. Our observations suggest that shape and asymmetry can be utilized to direct the motion of catalytic nanotubes and enable mechanized functions at the nanoscale.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Arsenicals / chemistry
  • Catalysis
  • Diffusion
  • Gallium / chemistry
  • Indium / chemistry
  • Microscopy, Electron, Scanning
  • Nanotechnology / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Nanotubes / chemistry*
  • Platinum / chemistry


  • Arsenicals
  • Indium
  • Platinum
  • Gallium