Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Motorized microscopic matchsticks move in water with sense of direction

Date:
September 10, 2013
Source:
University of Warwick
Summary:
Chemists, physicists and computer scientists have come together to devise a new powerful and very versatile way of controlling the speed and direction of motion of microscopic structures in water using what they have dubbed chemically 'motorized microscopic matchsticks'.

Chemists, physicists and computer scientists at the University of Warwick have come together to devise a new powerful and very versatile way of controlling the speed and direction of motion of microscopic structures in water using what they have dubbed chemically ‘motorised microscopic matchsticks’.
Credit: Image courtesy of University of Warwick

Chemists, physicists and computer scientists at the University of Warwick have come together to devise a new powerful and very versatile way of controlling the speed and direction of motion of microscopic structures in water using what they have dubbed chemically 'motorised microscopic matchsticks'.

Before now most research seeking to influence the direction of motion of microscopic components have had to use outside influences such as a magnetic field or the application of light. The University of Warwick team have now found a way to do it by simply adding a chemical in a specific spot and then watching the microscopic matchstick particles move towards it, a phenomenon known as chemotaxis.

The research published in the journal Materials Horizons (RSC) in a paper entitled "Chemotaxis of catalytic silica-manganese oxide "matchstick" particles" found that by adding a small amount of a catalyst to the head of a set microscopic rods, they could then cause the rods to be propelled towards the location of an appropriate 'chemical fuel' that was then added to a mixture.

For the purposes of this experiment the researchers placed silica-manganese oxide 'heads' on the matchstick material and introduced hydrogen peroxide as the chemical fuel in one particular place.

They placed the 'matchsticks' in a mixture alongside ordinary polymer microspheres.

When the hydrogen peroxide was added the microspheres continued to move in the direction of convection currents or under Brownian motion but the matchsticks were clearly rapidly propelled towards the chemical gradient where the hydrogen peroxide could be found.

The reaction was so strong that more than half of the matchstick particles did not reverse their orientation once over their 90 seconds of travel towards the hydrogen peroxide -- even though they were contending with significant convection and Brownian rotation.

University of Warwick research chemical engineer Dr Stefan Bon who led the research said:

"We choose high aspect ratio rod-like particles as they are a favourable geometry for chemotactic swimmers, as seen for example in nature in the shapes of certain motile organisms"

"We placed the 'engine' that drives the self-propulsion as a matchstick head on the rods because having the engine in the 'head' of the rod helps us align the rod along the direction of travel, would also show the asymmetry perpendicular to the direction of self-propulsion, and at the same time it maintains rotational symmetry parallel to the plane of motion.

"Our approach is very versatile and should allow for future fabrication of micro-components of added complexity.

"The ability to direct motion of these colloidal structures can form a platform for advances in supracolloidal science, the self-assembly of small objects.

"It may even provide some insight into how rod shapes were selected for self-propelled microscopic shapes in the natural world."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Warwick. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Adam R. Morgan, Alan B. Dawson, Holly S. Mckenzie, Thomas S. Skelhon, Richard Beanland, Henry P. W. Franks and Stefan A. F. Bon. Chemotaxis of catalytic silica–manganese oxide “matchstick” particles. Mater. Horiz., (in press) 2014 DOI: 10.1039/C3MH00003F

Cite This Page:

University of Warwick. "Motorized microscopic matchsticks move in water with sense of direction." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 10 September 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/09/130910094937.htm>.
University of Warwick. (2013, September 10). Motorized microscopic matchsticks move in water with sense of direction. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/09/130910094937.htm
University of Warwick. "Motorized microscopic matchsticks move in water with sense of direction." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/09/130910094937.htm (accessed April 21, 2014).

Share This



More Matter & Energy News

Monday, April 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Why Did Nike Fire Most Of Its Nike FuelBand Team?

Why Did Nike Fire Most Of Its Nike FuelBand Team?

Newsy (Apr. 19, 2014) Nike fired most of its Digital Sport hardware team, the group behind Nike's FuelBand device. Could Apple or an overcrowded market be behind layoffs? Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Small Reactors Could Be Future of Nuclear Energy

Small Reactors Could Be Future of Nuclear Energy

AP (Apr. 17, 2014) After the Fukushima nuclear disaster, the industry fell under intense scrutiny. Now, small underground nuclear power plants are being considered as the possible future of the nuclear energy. (April 17) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Horseless Carriage Introduced at NY Auto Show

Horseless Carriage Introduced at NY Auto Show

AP (Apr. 17, 2014) An electric car that proponents hope will replace horse-drawn carriages in New York City has also been revealed at the auto show. (Apr. 17) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Honda's New ASIMO Robot, More Human-Like Than Ever

Honda's New ASIMO Robot, More Human-Like Than Ever

AFP (Apr. 17, 2014) It walks and runs, even up and down stairs. It can open a bottle and serve a drink, and politely tries to shake hands with a stranger. Meet the latest ASIMO, Honda's humanoid robot. Duration: 00:54 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins