Swarming Aqua Sperm Micromotors for Active Bacterial Biofilms Removal in Confined Spaces

Carmen C. Mayorga-Martinez, Jaroslav Zelenka, Jan Grmela, Hana Michalkova, Tomáš Ruml, Jan Mareš, Martin Pumera

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


Microscale self-propelled robots show great promise in the biomedical field and are the focus of many researchers. These tiny devices, which move and navigate by themselves, are typically based on inorganic microstructures that are not biodegradable and potentially toxic, often using toxic fuels or elaborate external energy sources, which limits their real-world applications. One potential solution to these issues is to go back to nature. Here, the authors use high-speed Aqua Sperm micromotors obtained from North African catfish (Clarias gariepinus, B. 1822) to destroy bacterial biofilm. These Aqua Sperm micromotors use water-induced dynein ATPase catalyzed adenosine triphosphate (ATP) degradation as biocompatible fuel to trigger their fast speed and snake-like undulatory locomotion that facilitate biofilm destruction in less than one minute. This efficient biofilm destruction is due to the ultra-fast velocity as well as the head size of Aqua Sperm micromotors being similar to bacteria, which facilitates their entry to and navigation within the biofilm matrix. In addition, the authors demonstrate the real-world application of Aqua Sperm micromotors by destroying biofilms that had colonized medical and laboratory tubing. The implemented system extends the biomedical application of Aqua Sperm micromotors to include hybrid robots for fertilization or cargo tasks.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2101301
JournalAdvanced Science
Issue number19
Publication statusPublished - 2021 Oct 6

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), the Ministry of Health of the Czech Republic (NU21‐08‐00407) and Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports (Czech Republic) grant LL2002 under ERC CZ program. J.Z. and T.R. were supported by grant no. 21–16084 J from the Czech Science Foundation. Authors thank Ms. Michaela Kubáňová for the cultivation of bacteria.

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

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Chemical Engineering(all)
  • Materials Science(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology (miscellaneous)
  • Engineering(all)
  • Physics and Astronomy(all)


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