Understanding the efficiency of autonomous nano- and microscale motors

Wei Wang, Tso Yi Chiang, Darrell Velegol, Thomas E. Mallouk

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

202 Scopus citations


We analyze the power conversion efficiency of different classes of autonomous nano- and micromotors. For bimetallic catalytic motors that operate by a self-electrophoretic mechanism, there are four stages of energy loss, and together they result in a power conversion efficiency on the order of 10 -9. The results of finite element modeling agree well with experimental measurements of the efficiency of catalytic Pt-Au nanorod motors. Modifications of the composition and shape of bimetallic catalytic motors were predicted computationally and found experimentally to lead to higher efficiency. The efficiencies of bubble-propelled catalytic micromotors, magnetically driven flagellar motors, Janus micromotors driven by self-generated thermal gradients, and ultrasonically driven metallic micromotors are also analyzed and discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)10557-10565
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of the American Chemical Society
Issue number28
StatePublished - Jul 17 2013

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Catalysis
  • Chemistry(all)
  • Biochemistry
  • Colloid and Surface Chemistry


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