When asymmetric Janus micromotors are immobilized on a surface, they act as chemically powered micropumps, turning chemical energy from the fluid into a bulk flow. However, such pumps have previously produced only localized recirculating flows, which cannot be used to pump fluid in one direction. Here, we demonstrate that an array of three-dimensional, photochemically active Au/TiO2 Janus pillars can pump water. Upon UV illumination, a water-splitting reaction rapidly creates a directional bulk flow above the active surface. By lining a 2D microchannel with such active surfaces, various flow profiles are created within the channels. Analytical and numerical models of a channel with active surfaces predict flow profiles that agree very well with the experimental results. The light-driven active surfaces provide a way to wirelessly pump fluids at small scales and could be used for real-time, localized flow control in complex microfluidic networks.
Nature Communications, 11(2210), May 2020 (article)
Symmetry breaking and the emergence of self-organized patterns is the hallmark of com-
plexity. Here, we demonstrate that a sessile drop, containing titania powder particles with
negligible self-propulsion, exhibits a transition to collective motion leading to self-organized
ﬂow patterns. This phenomenology emerges through a novel mechanism involving the
interplay between the chemical activity of the photocatalytic particles, which induces Mar-
angoni stresses at the liquid–liquid interface, and the geometrical conﬁnement provided by
the drop. The response of the interface to the chemical activity of the particles is the source
of a signiﬁcantly ampliﬁed hydrodynamic ﬂow within the drop, which moves the particles.
Furthermore, in ensembles of such active drops long-ranged ordering of the ﬂow patterns
within the drops is observed. We show that the ordering is dictated by a chemical com-
munication between drops, i.e., an alignment of the ﬂow patterns is induced by the gradients
of the chemicals emanating from the active particles, rather than by hydrodynamic
Nano Letters, 18(9):5345–5349, July 2018 (article)
While colloids and molecules in solution exhibit passive Brownian motion, particles that are partially covered with a catalyst, which promotes the transformation of a fuel dissolved in the solution, can actively move. These active Janus particles are known as “chemical nanomotors” or self-propelling “swimmers” and have been realized with a range of catalysts, sizes, and particle geometries. Because their active translation depends on the fuel concentration, one expects that active colloidal particles should also be able to swim toward a fuel source. Synthesizing and engineering nanoparticles with distinct chemotactic properties may enable important developments, such as particles that can autonomously swim along a pH gradient toward a tumor. Chemotaxis requires that the particles possess an active coupling of their orientation to a chemical gradient. In this Perspective we provide a simple, intuitive description of the underlying mechanisms for chemotaxis, as well as the means to analyze and classify active particles that can show positive or negative chemotaxis. The classification provides guidance for engineering a specific response and is a useful organizing framework for the quantitative analysis and modeling of chemotactic behaviors. Chemotaxis is emerging as an important focus area in the field of active colloids and promises a number of fascinating applications for nanoparticles and particle-based delivery.
Our goal is to understand the principles of Perception, Action and Learning in autonomous systems that successfully interact with complex environments and to use this understanding to design future systems