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Rational Design of Reversible Redox Shuttle for Highly Efficient Light-Driven Microswimmer

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posted on 10.03.2020, 19:47 by Jizhuang Wang, Ze Xiong, Ming Liu, Xiao-meng Li, Jing Zheng, Xiaojun Zhan, Weiting Ding, Jianan Chen, Xuechen Li, Xiang David Li, Shien-Ping Feng, Jinyao Tang
The light-driven micro/nanomotor (LMNM) is machinery that harvests photon energy and generates self-propulsion in varieties of liquid media. Though visions are made that these tiny swimming machines can serve future medicine for accurate drug delivery and noninvasive microsurgery, their biomedical application is still impeded by the insufficient propulsion efficiency. Here we provide a holistic model of LMNM by considering (i) photovoltaic, (ii) electrochemical, and (iii) electrokinetic processes therein. Such a quantitative model revealed the pivotal role of reaction kinetics and diffusion properties of shuttle ions in the propulsion efficiency of LMNM. With the guidance of this model, a group of ferrocene-based reversible redox shuttles, which generate slow-diffusion ions, was identified, showcasing a high locomotion velocity of ∼500 μm/s (∼100 body length per second) at an ultralow concentration (70 μM). Owing to the in-depth understanding of the fundamental energy conversion processes in LMNM, we anticipate that the development of other high-performance supporting chemicals and LMNM systems will be greatly motivated, foreseeing the advent of LMNM systems with superior efficiency.