American Chemical Society
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Bubble-Free Propulsion of Ultrasmall Tubular Nanojets Powered by Biocatalytic Reactions

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posted on 2016-10-09, 00:00 authored by Xing Ma, Ana C. Hortelao, Albert Miguel-López, Samuel Sánchez
The motion of self-propelled tubular micro- and nano­jets has so far been achieved by bubble propulsion, e.g., O2 bubbles formed by catalytic decomposition of H2O2, which renders future bio­medical applications inviable. An alternative self-propulsion mechanism for tubular engines on the nano­meter scale is still missing. Here, we report the fabrication and characterization of bubble-free propelled tubular nano­jets (as small as 220 nm diameter), powered by an enzyme-triggered bio­catalytic reaction using urea as fuel. We studied the translational and rotational dynamics of the nano­jets as functions of the length and location of the enzymes. Introducing tracer nano­particles into the system, we demonstrated the presence of an internal flow that extends into the external fluid via the cavity opening, leading to the self-propulsion. One-dimensional nano­size, longitudinal self-propulsion, and bio­compatibility make the tubular nano­jets promising for future bio­medical applications.