Langmuir, Vol.34, No.10, 3289-3295, 2018
Photochemically Powered AgCl Janus Micromotors as a Model System to Understand Ionic Self-Diffusiophoresis
Micromotors are an emerging class of micro machines that could find potential applications in biomedicine, environmental remediation, and microscale self-assembly. Understanding their propulsion mechanisms holds the key to their future development. This is especially true for a popular category of micromotors that are driven by asymmetric surface photochemical reactions. Many of these micromotors release ionic species and are propelled via a mechanism termed "ionic self-diffusiophoresis". However, exactly how it operates remains vague. To address this fundamental yet important issue, we have developed a dielectric-AgCl Janus micromotor that clearly moves away from the AgCl side when exposed to UV or strong visible light. Taking advantage of numerical simulations and acoustic levitation techniques, we have provided tentative explanations for its speed decay over time as well as its directionality. In addition, photoactive AgCl micromotors demonstrate interesting gravitactic behaviors that hint at three-dimensional transport or sensing applications. The current work presents a well-controlled and easily fabricated model system to understand chemically powered micromotors, highlighting the usefulness of acoustic levitation for studying active matter free from the effect of boundaries.