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Construction of Nanomotors with Replaceable Engines by Supramolecular Machine-Based Host–Guest Assembly and Disassembly

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posted on 09.09.2021, 17:07 by Zihan Ye, Yong Wang, Sanhu Liu, Dandan Xu, Wei Wang, Xing Ma
Micro/nanomotors (MNMs) are miniaturized devices capable of performing self-propelled motion and on-demand tasks, which have brought revolutionary renovations in nanomedicine, environmental remediation, biochemical sensing, etc. Numerous methods of either chemical synthesis or physical fabrications have been extensively investigated to prepare MNMs of various shapes and functions. However, MNMs with replaceable engines that can be flexibly assembled and disassembled, resembling that of a macroscopic machine, have not been achieved. Here, for the first time, we report a demonstration of control over the engine replacement of self-propelled nanomotors based on hollow mesoporous silica nanoparticles (HMSNPs) via supramolecular machine-based host–guest assembly and disassembly between azobenzene (Azo) and β-cyclodextrin (β-CD). Nanomotors with different driving mechanisms can be rapidly constructed by selecting corresponding β-CD-modified nanoengines of urease, Pt, or Fe3O4, to assemble with the azobenzene-modified HMSNPs (HMSNPs-Azo). In virtue of photoresponsive cis/trans isomer conversion of azobenzene molecules, engine switching can be accomplished by remote light triggered host–guest assembly or disassembly between HMSNPs-Azo and β-CD-modified engines. Moreover, this method can quickly include multiple engines on the surface of the HMSNPs-Azo to prepare a hybrid MNM with enhanced motion capability. This strategy not only is cost-effective for the rapid and convenient preparation of nanomotors with different propulsion mechanism but also paves a new path to future multiple functionalization of MNMs for on-demand task assignment.