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Polyhedral Micromotors of Metal–Organic Frameworks: Symmetry Breaking and Propulsion

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posted on 17.11.2021, 21:31 authored by Zhisheng Wang, Wei Xu, Zuochen Wang, Dengping Lyu, Yijiang Mu, Wendi Duan, Yufeng Wang
Colloidal micromotors can autonomously propel due to their broken symmetry that leads to unbalanced local mechanical forces. Most commonly, micromotors are synthesized to possess a Janus structure or its variants, having two components distinct in shape, composition, or surface joined together on opposite sides. Here, we report on an alternative approach for creating micromotors, where microcrystals of metal–organic frameworks (MOFs) with various polyhedral shapes are propelled under an AC electric field. In these cases, symmetry breaking is realized by orienting the polyhedral particles in a unique direction to generate uneven electrohydrodynamic flow. The particle orientations are controlled by a delicate competition between the electric and gravitational forces exerted on the particle, which we rationalize using experiments and a theoretical model. Furthermore, by leveraging the MOF types and shapes, or surface properties, we show that the propulsion of MOF motors can be tuned or reversed. Because of the flexibility in designing MOFs and their one-step scalable synthesis, our strategy is simple yet versatile for making well-defined functional micromotors.