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Nanoscale 2015, 7(27), 11575-11579

The gating effect by thousands of bubble-propelled micromotors in macroscale channels

Increasing interest in the utilization of self-propelled micro-/nanomotors for environmental remediation requires the examination of their efficiency at the macroscale level. As such, we investigated the effect of micro-/nanomotors' propulsion and bubbling on the rate of sodium hydroxide dissolution and the subsequent dispersion of OH-ions across more than 30 cm, so as to understand how these factors might affect the dispersion of remediation agents in real systems which might require these agents to travel long distances to reach the pollutants. Experimental results showed that the presence of large numbers of active bubble-propelled tubular bimetallic Cu/Pt micromotors (4.5 x 10(4)) induced a gating effect on the dissolution and dispersion process, slowing down the change in pH of the solution considerably. The retardation was found to be dependent on the number of active micromotors present in the range of 1.5 x 10(4) to 4.5 x 10(4) micromotors. At lower numbers (0.75 x 10(4)), however, propelling micromotors did speed up the dissolution and dispersion process. The understanding of the combined effects of large number of micro-/nanomotors' motion and bubbling on its macroscale mixing behavior is of significant importance for future applications of these devices.

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