Hydrodynamics and propulsion mechanism of self-propelled catalytic micromotors: model and experiment†
The hydrodynamic behavior and propulsion mechanism of self-propelled micromotors are studied theoretically and experimentally. A hydrodynamic model to describe bubble growth and detachment is proposed to investigate the mechanism of a self-propelled conical tubular catalytic micromotor considering bubble geometric asymmetry and buoyancy force. The growth force caused by the growth of the bubble surface against the fluid is the driving force for micromotor motion. Also, the buoyancy force plays a primary role in bubble detachment. The effect of geometrical parameters on the micromotor velocity and drag force is presented. The bubble radius ratio is investigated for different micromotor radii to determine its hydrodynamic behavior during bubble ejection. The average micromotor velocity is found to be strongly dependent on the semi-cone angle, expelling frequency and bubble radius ratio. The semi-cone angle has a significant effect on the expelling frequency for conical tubular micromotors. The predicted results are compared to already existing experimental data for cylindrical micromotors (semi-cone angle δ = 0°) and conical micromotors. A good agreement is found between the theoretical calculation and experimental results. This model provides a profound explanation for the propulsion mechanism of a catalytic micromotor and can be used to optimize the micromotor design for its biomedical and environmental applications.