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Near-Infrared Light-Triggered “On/Off” Motion of Polymer Multilayer Rockets

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journal contribution
posted on 24.06.2014, 00:00 by Zhiguang Wu, Xiankun Lin, Yingjie Wu, Tieyan Si, Jianmin Sun, Qiang He
We describe an approach to modulating the on-demand motion of catalytic polymer-based microengines via near-infrared (NIR) laser irradiation. The polymer multilayer motor was fabricated by the template-assisted layer-by-layer assembly and subsequently deposition of platinum nanoparticles inside and a thin gold shell outside. Then a mixed monolayer of a tumor-targeted peptide and an antifouling poly(ethylene glycol) was functionalized on the gold shell. The microengines remain motionless at the critical peroxide concentration (0.1%, v/v); however, NIR illumination on the engines leads to a photothermal effect and thus rapidly triggers the motion of the catalytic engines. Computational modeling explains the photothermal effect and gives the temperature profile accordingly. Also, the photothermal effect can alone activate the motion of the engines in the absence of the peroxide fuel, implying that it may eliminate the use of toxic fuel in the future. The targeted recognition ability and subsequently killing of cancer cells by the photothermal effect under the higher power of a NIR laser were illustrated. Our results pave the way to apply self-propelled synthetic engines in biomedical fields.