Self-thermophoresis at the nanoscale using light induced solvation dynamics
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Downsizing microswimmers to the nanoscale, and using light as an externally controlled fuel, are two important goals within the field of active matter. Here we demonstrate using all-atom molecular dynamics simulations that solvation relaxation, the solvent dynamics induced after visible light electronic excitation of a fluorophore, can be used to propel nanoparticles immersed in polar solvents. We show that fullerenes functionalized with fluorophore molecules in liquid water exhibit substantial enhanced mobility under external excitation, with a propulsion speed proportional to the power dissipated into the system. We show that the propulsion mechanism is quantitatively consistent with a molecular scale instance of self-thermophoresis. Strategies to direct the motion of functionalized fullerenes in a given direction using confined environments are also discussed.
CitationRey, R.; Calero, C. Self-thermophoresis at the nanoscale using light induced solvation dynamics. "Nanoscale", 30 Març 2020, vol. 12, p. 7557-7562.