Catalytic nanomotors: Challenges and opportunities

John Gibbs, Yiping Zhao

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

3 Scopus citations


The fabrication of integrated nanomachinary systems can enable break-through applications in nanoelectronics, photonics, bioengineering, and drug delivery or disease treatment. Naturally occurring nanomotors are biological motor proteins powered by catalytic reactions, which convert the chemical energy from the environment into mechanical energy directly. It has been demonstrated recently that using a simple catalytic reaction and an asymmetric bimetallic nanorod, one can produce catalytic nanomotors that mimic the autonomous motions of bionanomotors. Yet the construction of artificial nanomachines remains a major contemporary challenge due to the lack of a flexible fabrication technique that can design the desired dynamic components. We use a design technique called dynamic shadowing growth that allows for the fabrication of a wide range of various geometries and the asymmetric placement of the catalyst is easily accomplished as well which is necessary for directed propulsion. Programming nanomotor behavior is possible through geometrically-focused design and by incorporating different materials into the nanomotor structure is a simple process as well. A propulsion mechanism based upon bubble ejection from the catalyst surface is introduced to explain the driving force, and the comparison of this driving mechanism with the self-electrophoresis mechanism is also studied. We have also successfully incorporated multiple parts to form complex nanomotor assemblies which exhibit motions not observed from individual parts by using magnetic interactions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationIndependent Component Analyses, Wavelets, Neural Networks, Biosystems, and Nanoengineering IX
StatePublished - 2011
Externally publishedYes
EventIndependent Component Analyses, Wavelets, Neural Networks, Biosystems, and Nanoengineering IX - Orlando, FL, United States
Duration: Apr 27 2011Apr 29 2011

Publication series

NameProceedings of SPIE - The International Society for Optical Engineering
ISSN (Print)0277-786X


ConferenceIndependent Component Analyses, Wavelets, Neural Networks, Biosystems, and Nanoengineering IX
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CityOrlando, FL


  • Dynamic shadowing growth
  • bubble propulsion
  • catalytic nanomotor

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Applied Mathematics
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


Dive into the research topics of 'Catalytic nanomotors: Challenges and opportunities'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this