Nanoscience bridges the macroscopic world and the atomic/ molecular world and provides the ultimate control of materials’ electrical and mechanical properties. By using this recently developed tool, novel devices and systems can be rationally designed to realize functions imagined before only in science fiction. We are particularly interested in the mechanical effect of chemical reactions which can be used as Nanorobotics and Active Matter
Self-propulsion NanomotorElectrochemical reactions in solution generate chemical products on the electrode’s surface and create an ionic flow between cathode and anode. At a microscopic scale, the mechanical force generated by this ionic flow is not negligible and can be used to propel nano/microparticles or pump solution around the electrode. This phenomenon has attracted much interest because of its potential applications in developing novel components in microrobots and in MEMS systems. However, in order to achieve high current density for large driven force, most nanomotors utilize a highly thermodynamically and kinetically favorable reaction such as hydrogen peroxide decomposition and/or hydrazine oxidation as its energy source. These harsh chemical conditions greatly limit the nanomotor’s applications. We are developing highly controllable nanomotor which can operate in the biocompatible electrolyte, which could have potential application in microsurgery and directed drug delivery.
Group Intelligent materials. On the other hand, it is not economically feasible to construct highly complicated nanorobot for complex tasks such as identifying tumors and release drugs at the target. Instead, a rather simple nanorobot with simple structures can be constructed, while the highly complex functions may be encoded into the interactions between many individual nanorobots. Just like the millions of ants forms colony, the group intelligent may emerge from the interaction networks of simple agents. We expect to construct the intelligent networks of nanorobots for highly intelligent nanorobot swarms.
Systematic Material and Active Fluid. As a material system far from thermodynamic equilibrium, the active fluid can be formed with millions of small active particles constantly powered by external sources such as light, chemicals, or heat. This active fluid can be regarded as a new kind of material, which has never been considered until the very recent development of complex science and nanotechnology, enabling the prediction, design, and preparation of active fluid. Nature has made such an extraordinary example of active material system with billions of years of evolution: Life. The question is Can We make Something extraordinary as well? What properties can be discovered in such systems?