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Autonomous Plasmon-Enhanced Photocatalytic Microrobots Powered by Lorentz Force

Objective

The 1966 sci-fi film, Fantastic Voyage, portrayed a scientist who miniaturized a submarine to enter his body to remove a blood clot. It is only recently that scientists have been able to assemble microrobots from scratch to autonomously move and perform complex tasks, such as catching and delivering cargo, and/or performing chemical reactions. The bots use energy from their surroundings or from an external stimulus, and turn it into motion. Light-driven motion in photocatalytic robots is exceptionally appealing as it allows actuation and control by using an external free energy source i.e. sun and enhancement of chemical reactions due to two effects: self-generated micro-mixing effect and constant surface refreshment, giving place to new chemical reactions ‘on-the-fly’. Yet, the reported photocatalytic bots up to date are so slow that their speed can be confused with Brownian motion. This project seeks to combine two approaches for the first time to enhance the efficiency and speed of light-driven bots: Lorentz force as an ultrafast motion mechanism and plasmonic effects for bettering light harvesting. A novel system will be introduced in which the robot’s motion based on the magnetohydrodynamic convection effect is triggered by visible light and can pursue desired reactions (degradation of organic wastes and hydrogen generation). By leveraging the host’s fundamental photophysical approach in nanoplasmonic design and my interdisciplinary angle on microrobots and energy field, the results are expected to bring knowledge gain for the microrobot field, and possibly a long-term impact on Europe’s solar technological innovations. The project‘s training comprises transferrable (leadership and communication) and technical skills development (bridging a knowledge gap in photophysics), to advance my career as a future group leader in Europe with an unorthodox research angle combining photo/electrochemistry and microrobots for alternative energy and environmental solutions.

Coordinator

LUDWIG-MAXIMILIANS-UNIVERSITAET MUENCHEN
Net EU contribution
€ 173 847,36
Address
Geschwister Scholl Platz 1
80539 Muenchen
Germany

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Region
Bayern Oberbayern München, Kreisfreie Stadt
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Non-EU contribution
No data