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Light-Driven Directed Motion of Azobenzene-Coated Polymer Nanoparticles in an Aqueous Medium

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posted on 2011-07-05, 00:00 authored by Jean-Pierre Abid, Michel Frigoli, Robert Pansu, Jacob Szeftel, Joseph Zyss, Chantal Larpent, Sophie Brasselet
Azobenzene-coated polymer nanoparticles in the 16-nm-diameter range act as phototriggered nanomotors combining photo to kinetic energy conversion with optical control through light intensity gradients. The grafted dyes act as molecular propellers: their photoisomerization supplies sufficient mechanical work to propel the particles in an aqueous medium toward the intensity minima with velocities of up to 15 μm/s. It is shown that nanoparticles can be driven over tens of micrometers by translating the intensity gradients in the plane. The analysis of the particles motion demonstrates the decisive role of photoisomerization in the transport with a measured driving force that is 3 to 4 orders of magnitude higher than optical forces.

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