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J Am Chem Soc. 2013 Oct 30;135(43):15978-81. doi: 10.1021/ja406090s. Epub 2013 Oct 21.

Photoactivated colloidal dockers for cargo transportation.

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Center for Soft Matter Research, Department of Physics, New York University , 4 Washington Place, New York, New York 10003, United States.


We introduce a self-propelled colloidal hematite docker that can be steered to a small particle cargo many times its size, dock, transport the cargo to a remote location, and then release it. The self-propulsion and docking are reversible and activated by visible light. The docker can be steered either by a weak uniform magnetic field or by nanoscale tracks in a textured substrate. The light-activated motion and docking originate from osmotic/phoretic particle transport in a concentration gradient of fuel, hydrogen peroxide, induced by the photocatalytic activity of the hematite. The docking mechanism is versatile and can be applied to various materials and shapes. The hematite dockers are simple single-component particles and are synthesized in bulk quantities. This system opens up new possibilities for designing complex micrometer-size factories as well as new biomimetic systems.


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