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Issue 4, 2010
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In pursuit of propulsion at the nanoscale

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This review describes recent developments in self-propelling nano- and micro-scale swimming devices. The ability of these devices to transport nano-scale components in a fluidic environment is demonstrated. Furthermore, the adaptations needed for these devices to meet biological transport challenges such as targeted drug delivery are highlighted. Particular emphasis is placed on describing autonomously powered devices driven by asymmetrical chemical reactions. Methods to control the speed and direction of such swimming devices using external fields are described, and contrasted to recent demonstrations of statistical autonomous migrations and organisations driven by chemical gradients, inter swimmer interactions and external photo-stimulus. Finally the challenges and advantages of converting other nature inspired swimming mechanisms into realistic artificial self-powered devices are considered.

Graphical abstract: In pursuit of propulsion at the nanoscale

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Article information

08 Sep 2009
26 Nov 2009
First published
15 Jan 2010

Soft Matter, 2010,6, 726-738
Article type
Review Article

In pursuit of propulsion at the nanoscale

S. J. Ebbens and J. R. Howse, Soft Matter, 2010, 6, 726
DOI: 10.1039/B918598D

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