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PHYS 8990 Topic

Smart Nanomotor Design and Applications

Yiping Zhao

The construction of artificial nanomachines remains a major contemporary challenge; while in nature, biological systems employ bionanomachines to perform important biological functions such as ATP synthesis, bacterial motility, cell replication, and muscle contraction. Those bionanomachines have been studied extensively in order to understand their operation mechanisms. Another kind of small machine in nature is the molecular machine. Synthetic molecules have been produced to possess the functions of shuttles, rotors, muscles, switches, elevators, and motors. One significant advantage of the bionanomotor is the use of chemicals to fuel its motion, usually though a catalytic reaction. To mimic this mechanism, a catalytic reaction can be introduced to an inorganic nanosystem to achieve the desired motion. These catalytic nanomotors have captured the essential idea of “fueling” the nanomachine, and translate the catalytic reaction energy to kinetic energy for nanorod motion. Here we are interested in three aspects of these nanomotors:

  1. Designing integrated smart nanomotor systems: Controlled motion of nanoscale objects is the first step in achieving integrated nanomachinary systems that can enable break-through applications in nanoelectronics, photonics, bioengineering, and drug delivery or disease treatment. However, to mimic the complicated motion and functionality of bionanomotors, such as rotation, rolling, shuttling, delivery, contraction, etc., it requires one to design intelligent nanomotor systems to be able to perform different motion, actuation, sensing, targeting and transportation. In this project, we will design different nanomotor components for self-assembly. Both magnetic self-assembly through incorporating magnetic layers and electrostatic self-assembly through chemical interactions will be used to assemble the nanomotor systems. The kinematics and dynamics of the nanomotor component and nanomotor systems will be investigated by comparing results from microhydrodynamic simulations with the experimental data.
  2. Kinetics of nanomotors in confined and crowded environment: Micro/nano-robots can be used for 1) localized delivery of chemical or biological substances for targeted therapy, 2) selectively removing material mechanically, and 3) transmitting information from a specific location that would otherwise be difficult or impossible to get to. However, medical micro/nano-robots must be designed to work in complex environments, which often feature fluid-filled tubes and cavities, soft tissues, as well as particulates with various dimensions. The ultimate goal of this project is to understand the fundamental transport behaviors of a group of nanomotors in confined and crowded environments such as micro-blood vessels.
  3. Mechanically Targeting Fibrin Clot by Magnetic Nanomotors: Stroke is the third leading cause of death in the U.S. and the leading cause of disability amongst adults. We believe that the blood clot can be both chemically and mechanically removed by designing novel surgical micro-/nano motors, and engineering and controlling their interactions with the fibrin clot. This project will explore new methods to employ the principle of nanomotors and their unique behaviors in liquid to better treat stroke.
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