Chemically programmable microrobots weaving a web from hormones

Lukas Dekanovsky, Bahareh Khezri, Zdeňka Rottnerova, Filip Novotny, Jan Plutnar, Martin Pumera

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Citations (Scopus)


The occurrence of synthetic and natural hormones in an aqueous environment poses significant risks to humans because of their endocrine-disrupting activity. Autonomous self-propelled and remotely actuated nano/microrobots have emerged as a new field that encompasses a wide range of potential applications, including sensing, detection and elimination/degradation of emerging pollutants. In this work, we develop programmable polypyrrole-based (PPy, outer functional layer) microrobots incorporated with a Pt catalytic layer and paramagnetic iron nanoparticles (Fe3O4) to provide self-propulsion and a magnetic response for the highly efficient removal of oestrogenic pollutants. As the pH of the tested water alters, the surface charge of PPy/Fe3O4/Pt microrobots gradually changes, leading to affinity modulation. As microrobots move inside the solution, they collect oestrogen fibres and subsequently weave macroscopic webs on the surface. Our results suggest that motion-controllable microrobots with adjustable surface chemistry could provide a suitable platform for the highly efficient removal of hormonal pollutants.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)711-718
Number of pages8
JournalNature Machine Intelligence
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 2020 Nov

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
M.P. was supported by the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports (Czech Republic) grant no. LL2002 under the ERC CZ programme. B.K. was supported by the Czech Science Foundation (GACR no. 20-20201S).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020, The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Nature Limited.

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Software
  • Human-Computer Interaction
  • Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition
  • Computer Networks and Communications
  • Artificial Intelligence


Dive into the research topics of 'Chemically programmable microrobots weaving a web from hormones'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this