Key parameters controlling the performance of catalytic motors

Maria J. Esplandiu, Ali Afshar Farniya, David Reguera

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

© 2016 AIP Publishing LLC. The development of autonomous micro/nanomotors driven by self-generated chemical gradients is a topic of high interest given their potential impact in medicine and environmental remediation. Although impressive functionalities of these devices have been demonstrated, a detailed understanding of the propulsion mechanism is still lacking. In this work, we perform a comprehensive numerical analysis of the key parameters governing the actuation of bimetallic catalytic micropumps. We show that the fluid motion is driven by self-generated electro-osmosis where the electric field originates by a proton current rather than by a lateral charge asymmetry inside the double layer. Hence, the surface potential and the electric field are the key parameters for setting the pumping strength and directionality. The proton flux that generates the electric field stems from the proton gradient induced by the electrochemical reactions taken place at the pump. Surprisingly the electric field and consequently the fluid flow are mainly controlled by the ionic strength and not by the conductivity of the solution, as one could have expected. We have also analyzed the influence of the chemical fuel concentration, electrochemical reaction rates, and size of the metallic structures for an optimized pump performance. Our findings cast light on the complex chemomechanical actuation of catalytic motors and provide important clues for the search, design, and optimization of novel catalytic actuators.
Original languageEnglish
Article number124702
JournalJournal of Chemical Physics
Volume144
Issue number12
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2016

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