Galvanic replacement induced electromotive force to propel Janus micromotors

J Chem Phys. 2019 Apr 14;150(14):144902. doi: 10.1063/1.5085838.


Electrochemistry is a highly versatile part of chemical research which is involved in many of the processes in the field of micromotion. Its input has been crucial from the synthesis of microstructures to the explanation of phoretic mechanisms. However, using electrochemical effects to propel artificial micromotors is still to be achieved. Here, we show that the forces generated by electrochemical reactions can not only create active motion, but they are also strong enough to overcome the adhesion to the substrate, caused by the increased ionic strength of the solutions containing the ions of more noble metals themselves. The galvanic replacement of copper by platinum ions is a spontaneous process, which not only provides a sufficiently strong electromotive force to propel the Janus structures but also results in asymmetric Pt-hatted structures, which can be further used as catalytic micromotors.