Catalytic nanomotors for environmental monitoring and water remediation
Self-propelled nanomotors hold considerable promise for developing innovative environmental applications. This review highlights the recent progress in the use of self-propelled nanomotors for water remediation and environmental monitoring applications, as well as the effect of the environmental conditions on the dynamics of nanomotors. Artificial nanomotors can sense different analytes—and therefore pollutants, or “chemical threats”—can be used for testing the quality of water, selective removal of oil, and alteration of their speeds, depending on the presence of some substances in the solution in which they swim. Newly introduced micromotors with double functionality to mix liquids at the microscale and enhance chemical reactions for the degradation of organic pollutants greatly broadens the range of applications to that of environmental. These “self-powered remediation systems” could be seen as a new generation of “smart devices” for cleaning water in small pipes or cavities difficult to reach with traditional methods. With constant improvement and considering the key challenges, we expect that artificial nanomachines could play an important role in environmental applications in the near future.