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Self-Powered Microscale Pumps Based on Analyte-Initiated Depolymerization Reactions


  • This work was supported by the NSF (DMR-0820404, CBET-1014673), DARPA (N66001-09-1-2111), the Arnold and Mabel Beckman Foundation, the Camille and Henry Dreyfus Foundation, 3M, Louis Martarano, and the Pennsylvania State University. We appreciate the assistance of Prof. Darrell Velegol (Department of Chemical Engineering) in calculating the power of the pumps.


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Pump it up: Insoluble polymer films that depolymerize to release soluble monomeric products when exposed to a specific analyte act as a microscale pump. Products formed as a result of depolymerization amplify the signal and create a concentration gradient that pumps fluids and insoluble particles away from the bulk polymer by a diffusiophoretic mechanism. These pumps can respond to a variety of analytes, from small molecules to enzymes.

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