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J Am Chem Soc. 2012 Jan 18;134(2):897-900. doi: 10.1021/ja210874s. Epub 2011 Dec 30.

Hydrogen-bubble-propelled zinc-based microrockets in strongly acidic media.

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Department of Nanoengineering, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, California 92093, USA.


Tubular polyaniline (PANI)/Zn microrockets are described that display effective autonomous motion in extreme acidic environments, without any additional chemical fuel. These acid-driven hydrogen-bubble-propelled microrockets have been electrosynthesized using the conical polycarbonate template. The effective propulsion in acidic media reflects the continuous thrust of hydrogen bubbles generated by the spontaneous redox reaction occurring at the inner Zn surface. The propulsion characteristics of PANI/Zn microrockets in different acids and in human serum are described. The observed speed-pH dependence holds promise for sensitive pH measurements in extreme acidic environments. The new microrockets display an ultrafast propulsion (as high as 100 body lengths/s) along with attractive capabilities including guided movement and directed cargo transport. Such acid-driven microtubular rockets offer considerable potential for diverse biomedical and industrial applications.


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