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Composite Multifunctional Micromotors from Droplet Microfluidics

Zou, Minhan, Wang, Jie, Yu, Yunru, Sun, Lingyu, Wang, Huan, Xu, Hua, Zhao, Yuanjin
ACS applied materials & interfaces 2018 v.10 no.40 pp. 34618-34624
bubbles, droplets, energy, equipment, hydrogels, hydrogen peroxide, iron oxides, magnetism, microfluidic technology, platinum, polymers
Inspired by natural biological machines, lots of effort has been invested in developing artificially functional micromotors which can convert energy into movement for carrying out tasks in diverse areas. Here, we present a capillary microfluidic system with dual inner injections for one-step generation of composite structured polymer micromotors with two distinct cores of platinum (Pt) nanoparticle-integrated and iron oxide (Fe₃O₄) nanoparticle-dispersed hydrogels. Because the flow rates of the prepolymerized fluids can be precisely tuned in the microfluidics, the diameters of the micromotors as well as the sizes and numbers of the inner cores can be well tailored to optimize the parameters of the resultant micromotors. When exposed to a hydrogen peroxide (H₂O₂) medium, the Pt-integrated cores of the micromotors could provide propulsion by expelling bubbles produced from the catalytic decomposition of H₂O₂, while the Fe₃O₄-dispersed cores could impart magnetic guidance for the micromotors. Benefiting from the close cooperation of these two types of cores, the micromotors were imparted with a strong propulsion and prominent recyclability for the delivery of both microscale and macroscale objects. These results manifest that this kind of composite micromotor has great diversity in various applications.