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Advanced Functional Materials 2017, 27(32)

Bioinspired Spiky Micromotors Based on Sporopollenin Exine Capsules

The development of a micromotor with unique spiky morphology based on sporopollenin exine capsules (SECs) is reported here. A widely abundant natural material extracted from sunflower pollen grains, the SECs are physically robust, highly monodisperse microcapsules that are ornamented with spiky appendages, opening the door to exploring bubble generation on this unique biomaterial surface. Partial platinum coating on the SEC surface enables catalytic decomposition of hydrogen peroxide that leads to bubble-propelled motion of individual SECs. Moreover, the hollow capsule architecture provides a large internal cavity for macromolecular encapsulation, as demonstrated here by the loading and transport of bovine serum albumin. Taking advantage of the sporopollenin biopolymer's capacity for heavy metal binding, it is further demonstrated that fluid mixing induced by the motion and bubble generation of the SEC micromotors dramatically improves heavy metal binding and removal. The bioinspired micromotors combine the advantageous properties of SECs with autonomous motion ability, resulting in a multifunctional platform for drug delivery and water purification applications.

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