Self-Propelling Macroscale Sheets Powered by Enzyme Pumps

Jiaqi Song, Oleg E. Shklyaev, Aditya Sapre, Anna C. Balazs, Ayusman Sen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Nanoscale enzymes anchored to surfaces act as chemical pumps by converting chemical energy released from enzymatic reactions into spontaneous fluid flow that propels entrained nano- and microparticles. Enzymatic pumps are biocompatible, highly selective, and display unique substrate specificity. Utilizing these pumps to trigger self-propelled motion on the macroscale has, however, constituted a significant challenge and thus prevented their adaptation in macroscopic fluidic devices and soft robotics. Using experiments and simulations, we herein show that enzymatic pumps can drive centimeter-scale polymer sheets along directed linear paths and rotational trajectories. In these studies, the sheets are confined to the air/water interface. With the addition of appropriate substrate, the asymmetric enzymatic coating on the sheets induces chemically driven, buoyancy flows that controllably propel the sheet's motion on the air/water interface. The directionality and speed of the motion can be tailored by changing the pattern of the enzymatic coating, type of enzyme, and nature and concentration of the substrate. This work highlights the utility of biocompatible enzymes for generating motion in macroscale fluidic devices and robotics and indicates their potential utility for in vivo applications.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere202311556
JournalAngewandte Chemie - International Edition
Issue number6
StatePublished - Feb 5 2024

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Catalysis
  • General Chemistry

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