Shape-Controlled Self-Assembly of Light-Powered Microrobots into Ordered Microchains for Cells Transport and Water Remediation

Xia Peng, Mario Urso, Martina Ussia, Martin Pumera

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


Nature presents the collective behavior of living organisms aiming to accomplish complex tasks, inspiring the development of cooperative micro/nanorobots. Herein, the spontaneous assembly of hematite-based microrobots with different shapes is presented. Autonomous motile light-driven hematite/Pt microrobots with cubic and walnut-like shapes are prepared by hydrothermal synthesis, followed by the deposition of a Pt layer to design Janus structures. Both microrobots show a fuel-free motion ability under light irradiation. Because of the asymmetric orientation of the magnetic dipole moment in the crystal, cubic hematite/Pt microrobots can self-assemble into ordered microchains, contrary to the random aggregation observed for walnut-like microrobots. The microchains exhibit different synchronized motions under light irradiation depending on the mutual orientation of the individual microrobots during the assembly, which allows them to accomplish multiple tasks, including capturing, picking up, and transporting microscale objects, such as yeast cells and suspended matter in water extracted from personal care products, as well as degrading polymeric materials. Such light-powered self-assembled microchains demonstrate an innovative cooperative behavior for small-scale multitasking artificial robotic systems, holding great potential toward cargo capture, transport, and delivery, and wastewater remediation.

Original languageEnglish
JournalACS Nano
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
M.P. was supported by the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports (Czech Republic) grant LL2002 under the ERC CZ program and by the Ministry of Health of the Czech Republic (NU21-08-00407). X.P. was supported by the China Scholarship Council (CSC No. 202008320382) and acknowledges the grant CEITEC VUT-K-22-7678, financed from Quality Internal Grants of BUT Reg. No. CZ.02.2.69/0.0/0.0/19_073/0016948. M. Urso acknowledges the financial support by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant agreement No. 101038066. The CzechNanoLab project LM2018110 funded by MEYS CR is gratefully acknowledged for the financial support of the measurements/sample fabrication at CEITEC Nano Research Infrastructure. CIISB, Instruct-CZ Centre of Instruct-ERIC EU consortium, funded by MEYS CR infrastructure project LM2018127, is gratefully acknowledged for the financial support of the measurements at the CEITEC Proteomics Core Facility.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 American Chemical Society.

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Materials Science(all)
  • Engineering(all)
  • Physics and Astronomy(all)


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