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Review
, 9 (2)

Light-Powered Micro/Nanomotors

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Review

Light-Powered Micro/Nanomotors

Hongxu Chen et al. Micromachines (Basel).

Abstract

Designed micro/nanomotors are micro/nanoscale machines capable of autonomous motion in fluids, which have been emerging in recent decades owing to their great potential for biomedical and environmental applications. Among them, light-powered micro/nanomotors, in which motion is driven by light, exhibit various advantages in their precise motion manipulation and thereby a superior scope for application. This review summarizes recent advances in the design, manufacture and motion manipulation of different types of light-powered micro/nanomotors. Their structural features and motion performance are reviewed and compared. The challenges and opportunities of light-powered micro/nanomotors are also discussed. With rapidly increasing innovation, advanced, intelligent and multifunctional light-powered micro/nanomachines will certainly bring profound impacts and changes for human life in the future.

Keywords: light-powered; manufacture; micro/nanomotors; motion manipulation.

Conflict of interest statement

The authors declare no conflict of interest.

Figures

Figure 1
Figure 1
The milestones for the development process of light-powered MNMs: Molecular motors. Reproduced with permission [72]. Copyright 2012, Royal Society of Chemistry. Optofluidics. Reproduced with permission [73]. Copyright 2009, WILEY-VCH. Solid state motors. Reproduced with permission [74]. Copyright 2004, American Chemical Society.
Figure 2
Figure 2
(A) Schematic illustration of helical Strip B (a). Photographs of helical Strip B before and after light irradiation (b). Schematic illustration of a mechanical arm completing a catching (releasing) movement (c). (d) Photographs of an object being lifted up by the mechanical arm. Scale bars, 1 cm in (b,d). Reproduced with permission [86]. Copyright 2016, American Chemical Society; (B) Illustration of the locomotion generated by non-reciprocal deformations of the helix (left); Directing the rotational motion to a linear translocation when the oscillating helix is confined close to a flat wall that impedes the rotation around the axis normal to the helix direction (right). Reproduced with permission [76]. Copyright 2016, WILEY-VCH.
Figure 3
Figure 3
Light-controlled motion of liquid crystalline polymer. (A) Schematic showing (a) leftward and (b) rightward shift of the center of gravity in the wheel due to the UV-light-induced asymmetric deformation. Reproduced with permission [77]. Copyright 2017, WILEY-VCH; (B) Schematic of light-pushing forward rolling (a) and light-pulling backward rolling (b) of the helical ribbons due to UV-light-induced torque. Reproduced with permission [77]. Copyright 2017, WILEY-VCH; (C) Schematic of photonic microhand design (a) Illustration of a microhand and related mesogen alignment. (b) Illustration of the closed microfingers in response to an optical stimulus and the related change in molecular alignment. Reproduced with permission [87]. Copyright 2017, WILEY-VCH.
Figure 4
Figure 4
Design of tubular microactuators. (a) Schematics showing the motion of a slug of fully wetting liquid confined in a tubular microactuator (TMA) driven by photodeformation; (b) Lateral photographs of the light-induced motion of a silicone oil slug in a TMA fixed on a substrate; (c) Schematic illustration of the structure of artery walls; (d) Molecular structure of a novel linear liquid crystal polymer (LLCP). Reproduced with permission [78]. Copyright 2016, Nature Publishing Group.
Figure 5
Figure 5
Fabrication schemes of template-assisted MNMs. (A) Schematic illustration of AAO template-assisted fabrication of the metal nanowires. Reproduced with permission [88]. Copyright 2011, American Chemical Society; (B) The fabrication process of PC template-assisted electrodeposition of micro/nanorockets. Reproduced with permission [58]. Copyright 2016, WILEY-VCH; (C) Fabrication scheme of spherical Janus MNMs. Reproduced with permission [81]. Copyright 2016, American Chemical Society.
Figure 6
Figure 6
Schematic illustration of MNMs fabricated by the LbL method. (A) Scheme of light-triggered Janus capsule motors. Reproduced with permission [90]. Copyright 2014, American Chemical Society; (B) Illustration of the fabrication of tubular rockets: (i) LbL assembly of (PAH/PSS)20 films, and subsequent deposition of AuNPs into the pores of templates; (ii) Formation of AuNSs though surface-seeding growth method; (iii) Removal of the templates to release the rockets. Reproduced with permission [92]. Copyright 2015, Wiley-VCH.
Figure 7
Figure 7
UV light-powered MNMs. (A) The UV-induced bubble propulsion mechanism of the TiO2 tubular microengine in H2O2 fuel, the generated O2 bubbles are ejected from a one-end large opening to propel the TiO2 tubular microengine. Reproduced with permission [100]. Copyright 2015, WILEY-VCH; (B) The mechanism schematic of TiO2-Au Janus micromotors powered by UV light in water. Reproduced with permission [79]. Copyright 2016, American Chemical Society; (C) The mechanism illustration of the phototaxis of a spherical TiO2 micromotor based on the limited penetration depth of light (graph on the left). Time-lapse images and the motion trajectory of a TiO2 micromotor in an aqueous solution containing 0.001 wt % H2O2 as fuel. The predesigned pathway for the micromotor is represented as dashed–dotted lines (graph on the right). Reproduced with permission [101]. Copyright 2017, WILEY-VCH.
Figure 8
Figure 8
Visible-light-powered MNMs. (a) Trajectories of the Si-Au micromotors in water, from left to right, without illumination and with illumination at a light intensity of 13.6 mW mm−2 (top figures). Propulsion mechanism of the Si-Au micromotors activated by visible light in deionized (DI) water (down figure). Reproduced with permission [102]. Copyright 2017, Royal Society of Chemistry; (b) Mechanism illustration of visible-light-driven BiOI-metal Janus micromotors (A) and the movement trajectories of BiOI-metal Janus micromotors with and without light irradiation (B,C). Reproduced with permission [80]. Copyright 2017, American Chemical Society.
Figure 9
Figure 9
NIR light-driven MNMs. (A) NIR-induced launch of a microengine in 0.1% (v/v) H2O2 solution. Reproduced with permission [91]. Copyright 2014, American Chemical Society; (B) Schematic mechanism of NIR-driven rockets (Small arrows represent the inner and outer thermophoretic forces, and the large arrow indicates the direction of the resultant force) and time-lapse images of NIR controllable launch, stop, and restarted movement of the rocket. Reproduced with permission [92]. Copyright 2015, Wiley-VCH; (C) Schematic of NIR-driven Janus mesoporous silica nanoparticle motors. Reproduced with permission [81]. Copyright 2016, American Chemical Society.
Figure 10
Figure 10
Full visible light (>400 nm) driven Au/B-TiO2 Janus micromotors. (A) Schematic of the propulsion mechanism of Au/B-TiO2 Janus micromotors; (B) Trajectories of (i) Au/B-TiO2 Janus micromotors over 18 s and (ii) Au/TiO2 Janus micromotors (control sample) over 33 s. Reproduced with permission [82]. Copyright 2017, American Chemical Society.
Figure 11
Figure 11
(A) Schematic of a Janus artificial microswimmer. Superimposed images of sequential frames show the migration of individual Janus nanotrees under global illumination in 0.1% H2O2 (a) and a mixture solution of 1,4-benzoquinone and hydroquinone (b). Reproduced with permission [83]. Copyright 2016, Nature Publishing Group; (B) Time-lapse optical images of collective behavior of peanut-shaped colloid motors under illumination of blue light. Reproduced with permission [84]. Copyright 2017, Wiley-VCH; (C) (a,b) Under UV illumination, an active particle adopts a tilted orientation, and moves with its TiO2 face leading. (c,d) Once trapped, passive particles preferentially attach to the TiO2 half (black region), and the active particle’s direction of propulsion reverses so that it moves toward its SiO2 face. (e–h) When more passive particles attach, the active particle usually reorients into a symmetric configuration with the active TiO2 surface facing up or down. Reproduced with permission [106]. Copyright 2017, WILEY-VCH.

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