Six-Degree-of-Freedom Steerable Visible-Light-Driven Microsubmarines Using Water as a Fuel: Application for Explosives Decontamination

Yulong Ying, Jan Plutnar, Martin Pumera

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


Micro/nanomotors are capable of a wide variety of tasks related, i.e., to biomedical or environmental applications. Light-driven semiconductor-based micromotors are especially appealing, as they can split surrounding water via light irradiation, and therefore, they can move infinitely. However, their motion is typically limited to in-plane motion with four degrees of freedom (4DoF) or even pseudo-1D motion with 2DoF. Herein, magnetically steerable tubular TiO2/Fe3O4/CdS micromotors, termed microsubmarines, with 6DoF motion, based on a fuel-free design where surrounding water acts as fuel upon visible light irradiation, are presented, with an average velocity of 7.9 µm s−1. Besides, the generation of radicals via such water splitting aids the photocatalytic chemicals degradation with the potential to use solar radiation. A light-induced self-electrophoretic mechanism is responsible for the self-propulsion and can be used to predict the motion direction based on the structure and composition. Finally, the TiO2/Fe3O4/CdS microsubmarines are tested in a proof-of-concept application of high-energy explosive, e.g., picric acid, photocatalytic degradation, with the best performance owing to the versatility of 6DoF motion, the surface coating with amorphous TiO2 layer, and UV light. The results can help optimize light-active micromotor design for potential national security and environmental application, hydrogen evolution, and target cargo delivery.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2100294
Issue number23
Publication statusPublished - 2021 Jun 10

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the project Advanced Functional Nanorobots (Reg. No. CZ.02.1.01/0.0/0.0/15_003/0000444 financed by the EFRR). M.P. was supported by Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports (Czech Republic) grant LL2002 under ERC CZ program.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 The Authors. Small published by Wiley-VCH GmbH

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biotechnology
  • Biomaterials
  • Chemistry(all)
  • Materials Science(all)


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