Jump to main content
Jump to site search
PLANNED MAINTENANCE Close the message box

Scheduled maintenance work on Wednesday 27th March 2019 from 11:00 AM to 1:00 PM (GMT).

During this time our website performance may be temporarily affected. We apologise for any inconvenience this might cause and thank you for your patience.

Issue 7, 2019
Previous Article Next Article

Propulsion and controlled steering of magnetic nanohelices

Author affiliations


Externally controlled motion of micro and nanomotors in a fluid environment constitutes a promising tool in biosensing, targeted delivery and environmental remediation. In particular, recent experiments have demonstrated that fuel-free propulsion can be achieved through the application of external magnetic fields on magnetic helically shaped structures. The magnetic interaction between helices and the rotating field induces a torque that rotates and propels them via the coupled rotational–translational motion. Recent works have shown that there exist certain optimal geometries of helical shapes for propulsion. However, experiments show that controlled motion remains a challenge at the nanoscale due to Brownian motion that interferes with the deterministic motion and makes it difficult to achieve controlled steering. In the present work we employ quantitatively accurate simulation methodology to design a setup for which magnetic nanohelices of 30 nm in radius and 180 nm in length (corresponding to previously determined optimal length to radius ratio of 6), with and without cargo, can be accurately propelled and steered in the presence of thermal fluctuations. In particular, we demonstrate fast transport of such nanomotors and devise protocols in manipulating external fields to achieve directionally controlled steering at biologically relevant temperatures.

Graphical abstract: Propulsion and controlled steering of magnetic nanohelices

Back to tab navigation

Supplementary files

Publication details

The article was received on 04 Jan 2018, accepted on 20 Dec 2018 and first published on 04 Jan 2019

Article type: Paper
DOI: 10.1039/C8SM00037A
Citation: Soft Matter, 2019,15, 1684-1691

  •   Request permissions

    Propulsion and controlled steering of magnetic nanohelices

    M. M. Alcanzare, M. Karttunen and T. Ala-Nissila, Soft Matter, 2019, 15, 1684
    DOI: 10.1039/C8SM00037A

Search articles by author