Superfast Motion of Catalytic Microjet Engines at Physiological Temperature
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Journal of the American Chemical Society 133 (38): 14860--14863 (2011)

There is a great interest in reducing the toxicity of the fuel used to self-propel artificial nanomachines. Therefore, a method to increase the efficiency of the conversion of chemicals into mechanical energy is desired. Here, we employed temperature control to increase the efficiency of microjet engines while simultaneously reducing the amount of peroxide fuel needed. At physiological temperatures, i.e. 37 °C, only 0.25% H2O2 is needed to propel the microjets at 140 μm s–1, which corresponds to three body lengths per second. In addition, at 5% H2O2, the microjets acquire superfast speeds, reaching 10 mm s–1. The dynamics of motion is altered when the speed is increased; i.e., the motion deviates from linear to curvilinear trajectories. The observations are modeled empirically.
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