Light-driven micro/nanomotors: from fundamentals to applications
Light, as an external stimulus, is capable of driving the motion of micro/nanomotors (MNMs) with the advantages of reversible, wireless and remote manoeuvre on demand with excellent spatial and temporal resolution. This review focuses on the state-of-the-art light-driven MNMs, which are able to move in liquids or on a substrate surface by converting light energy into mechanical work. The general design strategies for constructing asymmetric fields around light-driven MNMs to propel themselves are introduced as well as the photoactive materials for light-driven MNMs, including photocatalytic materials, photothermal materials and photochromic materials. Then, the propulsion mechanisms and motion behaviors of the so far developed light-driven MNMs are illustrated in detail involving light-induced phoretic propulsion, bubble recoil and interfacial tension gradient, followed by recent progress in the light-driven movement of liquid crystalline elastomers based on light-induced deformation. An outlook is further presented on the future development of light-driven MNMs towards overcoming key challenges after summarizing the potential applications in biomedical, environmental and micro/nanoengineering fields.