Cooperative transport by flocking phototactic micromotors

Jianhua Zhang, Fangzhi Mou, Zhen Wu, Jiaqi Song, Joshua E. Kauffman, Ayusman Sen, Jianguo Guan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


Cargo delivery by micro/nanomotors provides enormous opportunities for micromanipulation, environmental cleaning, drug delivery, etc. However, due to the limited driving force, it is usually difficult for single micro/nanomotors to transport cargoes much larger or heavier than themselves. Here, we demonstrate that flocking phototactic TiO2 micromotors can cooperatively transport multiple and different types of large cargoes based on light-responsive diffusiophoresis. Utilizing spontaneous diffusiophoretic attraction, flocking TiO2 micromotors can load large cargoes. Under UV light navigation, flocking TiO2 micromotors cooperatively carry and transport cargoes via collective diffusiophoretic repulsion in open space or complex microenvironments. After reaching the destination, the carried cargoes can also be unloaded from the flock and be deployed at a predetermined destination by disassembling or reversing the flock. This study may pave the way for developing intelligent swarming micro/nanorobots for cooperative targeting micromanipulation and advancing their applications in drug delivery and microengineering.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)6157-6163
Number of pages7
JournalNanoscale Advances
Issue number21
StatePublished - Nov 7 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Bioengineering
  • General Chemistry
  • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics
  • General Materials Science
  • General Engineering


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