Water-driven micromotors for rapid photocatalytic degradation of biological and chemical warfare agents

ACS Nano. 2014 Nov 25;8(11):11118-25. doi: 10.1021/nn505029k. Epub 2014 Oct 10.


Threats of chemical and biological warfare agents (CBWA) represent a serious global concern and require rapid and efficient neutralization methods. We present a highly effective micromotor strategy for photocatalytic degradation of CBWA based on light-activated TiO2/Au/Mg microspheres that propel autonomously in natural water and obviate the need for external fuel, decontaminating reagent, or mechanical agitation. The activated TiO2/Au/Mg micromotors generate highly reactive oxygen species responsible for the efficient destruction of the cell membranes of the anthrax simulant Bacillus globigii spore, as well as rapid and complete in situ mineralization of the highly persistent organophosphate nerve agents into nonharmful products. The water-driven propulsion of the TiO2/Au/Mg micromotors facilitates efficient fluid transport and dispersion of the photogenerated reactive oxidative species and their interaction with the CBWA. Coupling of the photocatalytic surface of the micromotors and their autonomous water-driven propulsion thus leads to a reagent-free operation which holds a considerable promise for diverse "green" defense and environmental applications.

Keywords: biological agents; chemical warfare defense; micromotors; photocatalytic degradation; titanium dioxide.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Biological Warfare Agents*
  • Catalysis
  • Chemical Warfare Agents / chemistry*
  • Gold
  • Magnesium
  • Microspheres
  • Photochemical Processes*
  • Titanium
  • Water / chemistry*


  • Biological Warfare Agents
  • Chemical Warfare Agents
  • Water
  • titanium dioxide
  • Gold
  • Titanium
  • Magnesium