Multi-Fuel Driven Janus Micromotors

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Abstract

Here the first example of a chemically powered micromotor that harvests its energy from the reactions of three different fuels is presented. The new Al/Pd Janus microspheres—prepared by depositing a Pd layer on one side of Al microparticles—are propelled efficiently by the thrust of hydrogen bubbles generated from different reactions of Al in strong acidic and alkaline environments, and by an oxygen bubble thrust produced at their partial Pd coating in hydrogen peroxide media. High speeds and long lifetimes of 200 μm s−1 and 8 min are achieved in strong alkaline media and acidic media, respectively. The ability to autonomously adapt to the presence of a new fuel (surrounding environment), without compromising the propulsion behavior is illustrated. These data also represent the first example of a chemically powered micromotor that propels autonomously and efficiently in alkaline environments (pH > 11) without additional fuels. The ability to use multiple fuel sources to power the same micromotor offers a broader scope of operation and considerable promise for diverse applications of micromotors in different chemical environments.

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