08 October 2014 ICFO and ICN2 study in Chemical & Engineering News

Optical Microscopy images & schematics of pumps and colloids

Langmuir article on Catalytic microPumps is highlighted in Chemical & Engineering News In a recent study entitled “Sequential Tasks Performed by Catalytic Pumps for Colloidal Crystallization”, ICFO researcher Prof. Adrian Bachtold and ICN2 scientists Ali Afshar Farniya and Dr. María J. Esplandiu were able to develop a catalytic gold-platinum micropump that uses a simple chemical reaction to coax silica beads in a fluid to self-assemble into a crystalline structure. The study, published in Langmuir, has been highlighted in Chemical & Engineering News.

The manipulation mechanism relies on the electric field and the fluid flow generated by the chemical pump. The pump operated different tasks in order to achieve the formation of the colloidal crystal. These tasks were executed sequentially over time in an autonomous way. Switching from one task to the next is related to the local change of the proton concentration, which modifies the bead potential and, consequently, the electric force acting on the beads.

Translating chemical energy into mechanical energy could be useful in nanofabrication, both by providing a power source and by guiding materials to self-assemble.