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ACS Nano 2018, 12(12), 12482-12491

Metal-Free Visible-Light Photoactivated C3N4 Bubble-Propelled Tubular Micromotors with Inherent Fluorescence and On/Off Capabilities

Photoactivated micromachines are at the forefront of the micro- and nanomotors field, as light is the main power source of many biological systems. Currently, this rapidly developing field is based on metal-containing segments, typically TiO2 and precious metals. Herein, we present metal-free tubular micromotors solely based on graphitic carbon nitride, as highly scalable and low-cost micromachines that can be actuated by turning on/off the light source. These micromotors are able to move by a photocatalytic-induced bubble-propelled mechanism under visible light irradiation, without any metal-containing part or biochemical molecule on their structure. Furthermore, they exhibit interesting properties, such as a translucent tubular structure that allows the optical visualization of the O-2 bubble formation and migration inside the microtubes, as well as inherent fluorescence and adsorptive capability. Such properties were exploited for the removal of a heavy metal from contaminated water with the concomitant optical monitoring of its adsorption by fluorescence quenching. This multifunctional approach contributes to the development of metal-free bubble-propelled tubular micromotors actuated under visible light irradiation for environmental applications.

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