Hybrid Nanomotor: A Catalytically/Magnetically Powered Adaptive Nanowire Swimmer



A synthetic hybrid nanomotor, which combines chemically powered propulsion and magnetically driven locomotion, is described. The new catalytic–magnetic nanomotor consists of a flexible multisegment Pt-Au-Agflex-Ni nanowire, with the Pt-Au and Au-Agflex-Ni portions responsible for the catalytic and magnetic propulsion modes, respectively. The experimental data and theoretical considerations indicate that the hybrid design only minimally compromises the individual propulsion modes. Rapid and convenient switching from the catalytic to the magnetic mode is illustrated. The resulting catalytic–magnetic adaptive nanomotor can address the fuel depletion and salt limitation common to chemically powered motors by switching to magnetic propulsion. Reversal of the motion direction is also achieved upon applying the magnetic field. Such use of two sources to power a hybrid device offers a broader scope of operation and holds considerable promise for designing adaptive nanovehicles that reconfigure their operation in response to environmental changes or unexpected events.