Smart nano-bio-devices

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Video highlights

 

 

About

We develop different Systems ranging from active nanoparticles (nanobots), 3D Bioprinted Actuators and flexible biosensors. We are interested in fundamental studies of active matter, the use of nanobots for future nanomedicine and environmental applications and the bioengineering of new devices based on hybrid systems.


NanoBio Team

 

Smart micro- and nanorobots are able to swim, monitor their own activity, sense their environment and deliver drugs to 3D bladder
cancer spheroids using biocompatible and bioavailable fuels such as urea.

 

The use of enzyme catalysis is emerging as an attractive alternative to power micro- and nanomachines due to their unique features including biocompatibility, versatility and fuel bioavailability. Our group has demonstrated the use of different enzymes, including urease and glucose oxidase, to generate active propulsion of nano– and microparticlespaving the way towards new applications of artificial active matter in biomedicine. We have recently demonstrated that using enzyme-powered nanomotors can enhance anti-cancer drug delivery in vitro, improve the targeting of 3D bladder cancer spheroids and sense their surrounding environment. We are also interested in understanding the fundamental aspects underlying the motion of biocatalytic microswimmers for a safe and efficient design of micro- and nanomotors.  

 

Read more:

Ionic Species Affect the Self-Propulsion of Urease-Powered Micromotors
Xavier Arqué, Xavier Andrés, Rafael Mestre, Bernard Ciraulo, Jaime Ortega Arroyo, Romain Quidant, Tania Patiño, Samuel Sánchez
Research (2020) 2424972

Intrinsic enzymatic properties modulate the self-propulsion of micromotors
Xavier Arqué, Adrian Romero-Rivera, Ferran Feixas, Tania Patiño, Sílvia Osuna, Samuel Sánchez
Nature Communications (2019) 10, 2826

Self-sensing enzyme-powered micromotors equipped with pH responsive DNA nanoswitches
Tania Patiño, Alessandro Porchetta, Anita Jannasch, Anna Lladó, Tom Stumpp, Erik Schäffer, Francesco Ricci, Samuel Sánchez
Nano letters (2019) 19, (6), 3440-3447

Targeting 3D Bladder Cancer Spheroids with Urease-Powered Nanomotors
Ana C. Hortelão, Rafael Carrascosa, Nerea Murillo-Cremaes, Tania Patiño, Samuel Sánchez
ACS nano (2019), 13, 429-439

Fundamental Aspects of Enzyme-Powered Micro-and Nanoswimmers
Tania Patiño, Xavier Arqué, Rafael Mestre, Lucas Palacios, Samuel Sánchez
Accounts of chemical research (2018) 51, 2662-2671

Influence of enzyme quantity and distribution on the self-propulsion of non-Janus urease-powered micromotors
Tania Patiño, Natalia Feiner-Gracia, Xavier Arqué, Albert Miguel-López, Anita Jannasch, Tom Stumpp, Erik Schäffer, Lorenzo Albertazzi, Samuel Sánchez
Journal of the American Chemical Society (2018), 140, 7896-7903

Enzyme‐Powered Nanobots Enhance Anticancer Drug Delivery
AC Hortelão, T Patiño, A Perez‐Jiménez, À Blanco, S Sánchez
Advanced Functional Materials (2018), 28, 1705086

Videos:

 


3D BioPrinted Soft Robotics

 

3D-bioprinted bio-actuator based on skeletal muscle used as a force measurement
platform. Upon electrical stimulation, the muscle can contract, bend the post and
their force can be calculated.

In the research line of soft bio-hybrid robotics, we explore the integration of biological tissue and artificial materials at larger length scales. In particular, we take advantage of the 3D bioprinting technique to develop bio-robotic systems composed of skeletal muscle cells embedded in biocompatible hydrogels, which can be 3D bioprinted alongside other artificial materials. Theses materials can act as scaffolds, support, or flexible parts, as well as be responsive upon certain stimuli. By controlling the contractions of skeletal muscle cells via electric fields, we can measure the forces exerted by these bio-actuators against artificial 3D-printed posts. Using this setup, we have performed studies on the adaptability of bio-actuators after applying different training protocols and we have observed how their force generation and gene expression can adapt to the frequency of stimulation and stiffness of the artificial posts. 

 

 

 

Read more:

Bio-hybrid soft robots with self-stimulating skeletons
Maria GuixRafael Mestre, Tania Patiño, Marco De Corato, Judith Fuentes, Giulia Zarpellon, Samuel Sánchez
BioRxiv, doi: https://doi.org/10.1101/2020.09.16.299719

Design, optimization and characterization of bio-hybrid actuators based on 3D-bioprinted skeletal muscle tissue
Rafael Mestre, Tania Patiño, Maria Guix, Xavier Barceló, Samuel Sánchez
Biomimetic and Biohybrid Systems (2019) 8th International Conference, Living Machines 2019
Lecture Notes in Computer Science,  Springer International Publishing (Nara, Japan) 11556, 205-215
 

Force Modulation and Adaptability of 3D‐Bioprinted Biological Actuators Based on Skeletal Muscle Tissue
Rafael Mestre, Tania Patiño, Xavier Barceló, Shivesh Anand, Ariadna Pérez‐Jiménez, Samuel Sánchez
Advanced Materials Technologies (2018): 1800631 

Miniaturized soft bio-hybrid robotics: a step forward into healthcare applications
Tania Patino, Rafael Mestre, Samuel Sánchez
Lab Chip (2016) 1619, 3626-3630

 


Active matter in complex systems 

Phoretic and hydrodynamic interactions with nearby surfaces and flows can be exploited to create a guidance mechanism for self-propelled particles.

 

We study colloidal suspensions of Pt-coated silica particles as a model system of synthetic active matter. These systems have mostly been studied in homogeneous environments until now. Our interest lies in observing these systems in more complex settings, such as near interfaces, complex media or with flow involvedSince the self-propelled particles generate chemical and hydrodynamic fields around them, they interact in complex ways with flows and nearby surfaces that often leads to interesting behaviour. We could find, for instance, that close to solid surfaces they achieve a stable ‘gliding’ state which could be exploited to develop a system for guiding micro-nano motors using topographical features as shown with our micropatterned ratchets. When flow is present, particles also behave different as they reorient perpendicular to the flow. 

 

 

Read more:

Self-propulsion of active colloids via ion release: Theory and experiments
Marco De Corato, Xavier Arqué, Tania Patiño, Marino Arroyo, Samuel Sánchez, Ignacio Pagonabarraga
Physical Review Letters (2020) 124,  108001

Guidance of active particles at liquid-liquid interfaces near surfaces
Lucas Palacios, Jaideep Katuri, Ignacio Pagonabarraga and Samuel Sánchez
Soft Matter (2019) 15, 6581-6588

Directed Flow of Micromotors through Alignment Interactions with Micropatterned Ratchets
Jaideep Katuri, David Caballero, Raphael Voituriez, Josep Samitier and Samuel Sánchez
ACS Nano (2018)127282-7291 

Cross-stream migration of active particles
Jaideep Katuri, William E. Uspal, Juliane Simmchen, Albert Miguel-López, Samuel Sánchez
Science Advances (2018) 4 

Topographical Pathways Guide Chemical Microswimmers
Juliane Simmchen, Jaideep Katuri, William E. Uspal, Mihail N. Popescu, Mykola Tasinkevych, and Samuel Sánchez
Nature Communications (2016) 7 , 10598

Videos:

 


Environmental applications of micro-nano motors 

 

Micromotors can remove a wide variety of pollutants in contaminated water.

Micromotors can remove a wide variety of pollutants from contaminated water. 

Artificial micromotors, based on bubble self-propulsion have demonstrated to be able to mix solutions and enhance chemical reactions while they swim. These micromotors are mostly based on two main structures, tubular and spherical. 

First, we have designed tubular micromotors, which use hydrogen peroxide as a fuel, using different techniques such as, ‘rolling-up’ and electrodeposition. ‘Rolling-up’ microjets with a functional iron-based layer can generate and actively transport free radicals in the solution performing the degradation of organic dyes via Fenton-like reactions in presence of hydrogen peroxide. On the other hand, electrodeposited microjets, which are smaller than their ‘roll-up’ counterparts, contain graphene-oxide on the outside working as ‘heavy metal scrubbers’. In this case, the metal is adsorbed and removed from the contaminated water. The metal can thereafter be desorbed and the microjets used again. 

In order to target other water pollution problems, such as microorganism contamination, we have developed spherical microbots that can kill bacteria while they swim. These microbots have a Janus structure based on spherical magnesium microparticles, able to dissolve in water producing hydrogen bubbles, covered in one of their faces by Fe, Au and AgNPs which provide magnetic, bacteria attachment and bactericidal properties to the microjets. 

Towards scaling-up of the micromotor synthesis for cleaning large volumes of water, we have fabricated micromotors using exclusively chemical methods such as, precipitation, reduction and sol-gel chemistry. These micromotors are based on a silica microtubular structure which contains an inner-layer of a catalytic material (PtNPs or MnO2) capable of removing pollutants efficiently from water while they swim in the presence of hydrogen peroxide. The external decoration of these structures with magnetic nanoparticles provides for good magnetic control. Finally, magnetic and catalytic micromotors formed by the aggregation of cobalt ferrite nanoparticles were synthesized to remove antibiotics from water. All these micromotors, due to their magnetic properties can be removed from the solution after finishing their targeting action by the application of an external magnetic field. 

Read more:

Microbots Decorated with Silver Nanoparticles Kill Bacteria in Aqueous Media
Diana Vilela, Morgan M. Stanton, Jemish Parmar, and Samuel Sánchez
ACS Appl. Mater. Interfaces (2017) 9, 22093–22100

Reusable and Long-Lasting Active Microcleaners for Heterogeneous Water Remediation
Jemish Parmar, Diana Vilela, Eva Pellicer, Daniel Esqué-de los Ojos, Jordi Sort, and Samuel Sánchez
Advanced Functional Materials (2016) 26, 4152–4161

Graphene-Based Microbots for Toxic Heavy Metal Removal and Recovery from Water
Diana Vilela, Jemish Parmar, Yongfei Zeng, Yanli Zhao, and Samuel Sánchez
Nano Letters (2016) 16, 2860-2866

Videos:

 

 


(Flexible) Biosensors for non-invasive Point-of-Care diagnostics 

Electrodes fabricated on flexible substrates are modified with a wide range of materials for selectivity towards biomarkers. Analytes are quickly quantified by electrochemical techniques.

 

Point-of-care diagnostics allows decentralizing clinical diagnostic practices and monitoring health out of specialized hospital settings. Advantages of such decentralization are improved quality of life of patients, enhanced therapeutic efficacy thanks to more frequent tests, and lower overall cost of the health system. We develop flexible biochemical sensors for non-invasive and cost-effective monitoring of analytes in biological fluids alternative to blood, e.g. sweat, tears, and saliva. We combine electrochemical electrochemical sensors with microfluidics and electronics to achieve fully integrated devices, that are well suited for low-cost, portable and user-friendly medical diagnostics. 

 

 

 

 

Read more:

Inkjet printed flexible non-enzymatic glucose sensor for tear fluid analysis
Agostino Romeo, Ana Moya, Tammy S. Leung, Gemma Gabriel, Rosa Villa and Samuel Sánchez
Applied Materials Today (2018) 10, 133-141

Smart biosensors for multiplexed and fully integrated point-of-care diagnostics
Agostino Romeo, Tammy Sue Leung, and Samuel Sánchez
Lab Chip (2016) 16, 1957-1961

Flexible sensors for biomedical technology
Diana Vilela, Agostino Romeo, and Samuel Sánchez
Lab Chip (2016) 16, 402-408


Staff


Samuel Sánchez Ordóñez | Group Leader / ICREA Research Professor
Juan Fraire | Postdoctoral Researcher
Maria Guix Noguera | Postdoctoral Researcher
Veronika Magdanz | Postdoctoral Researcher
Morgane Valles | Postdoctoral Researcher
Valerio Di Carlo | Senior Technician
Xavier Arqué Roca | PhD Student
Judith Fuentes Llanos | PhD Student
Noelia Ruiz González | PhD Student
Meritxell Serra Casablancas | PhD Student
Ferran Blasi Moreno | Research Assistant
Egor Folli | Research Assistant
Ana Candida Lopes Hortelão | Research Assistant
Guillem Lopez-Grado i Salinas | Research Assistant
Alicia Rivera Rodríguez | Research Assistant
Angel Blanco Blanes | Laboratory Technician
Carles Prado Morales | Masters Student
Tania Patiño Padial | Visiting Researcher

Alumni

  • Chiara Greco | 2020 Master student (Politecnico di Torino, Italy)
  • Giulia Zarpellon | 2018-2019 Research Assistant
  • Dr. Lei Wang | 2018-2020  Postdoctoral researcher (IBEC) | Current position: Professor at Harbin Institute of Technology
  • Nerea García | 2020 Master student (UB – UPC, Spain)
  • Dr. Paul Soto | 2017-2019 Postdoctoral researcher (IBEC) | Current position: postdoctoral researcher at BIAM in Cadarache
  • Pascal Blersch | 2019 Master student
  • Xavier Andrés | 2019 Master student (University of Barcelona, Spain)
  • Núria Cadefau | 2019 Master student (Université de Lyon, France)
  • Joaquim Llàcer Wintle | 2019  Master student (BIST Barcelona, Spain) | Current position: PhD Candidate at ETH Zürich
  • Roland Rocafort | 2019 Visiting bachelor student MIT
  • Prof. Dong Pyo Kim | 2018 Visiting Researcher
  • Dr. Jemish Parmar | 2015-2019 PhD candidate (IBEC)
  • Dr. Jaideep Katuri | 2015-2019 PhD candidate (Max Planck for Intelligent Systems and IBEC)
  • Dr. Diana Vilela | 2014-2019 Postdoctoral researcher (Max Planck for Intelligent Systems and IBEC) | Current position: Postdoctoral researcher at Universidad Complutense de Madrid
  • Elisabeth Bigorra | 2018 Bachelor student (TFG, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona)
  • Dr. Agostino Romeo | 2016-2019 Postdoctoral researcher (IBEC) | Current position: Innovation Project Manager at Vall d’Hebron
  • Albert Miguel-López | 2015-2018 Master student and research assistant
  • Liam K. Herndon | 2018 Visiting bachelor student MIT
  • Dr. Mingjun Xuan | 2018 Postdoctoral researcher
  • Ander Eguskiza | 2018 Master student (University Pompeu Fabra, Spain)
  • Carlos Martínez Martin | 2018 Master student (University of Barcelona, Spain)
  • Rafael Carrascosa | 2018 Master student
  • Xavier Barceló | 2018 Master student (University of Barcelona, Spain)
  • Natàlia Salvat | 2018 Master student (University of Barcelona, Spain)
  • Dr. Nerea Murillo-Cremaes | 2017-2018 Postdoctoral Researcher | Current position: Leitat Technological Center
  • Ariadna Pérez-Jiménez | 2015-2018 Group technician
  • Shivesh Anand | 2017 Research assistant
  • Sílvia Vicente Rizo | 2017 Master student (University of Barcelona, Spain)
  • Tania Gonçalves | 2016 Master student
  • Dr. Morgan M. Stanton | 2015 Posdoctoral Researcher (Max Planck for Intelligent Systems)
  • Dr. Xing Ma | 2015 Postdoctoral Researcher (Max Planck for Intelligent Systems) | Current position: Harbin Insitute of Technology
  • Dr. Lluís Soler | 2015 Postdoctoral Researcher (Max Planck for Intelligent Systems) | Current position: Institute of Energy Technologies (INTE), UPC (ETSEIB), Barcelona
  • Azaam Aziz | 2015 Master student (Fachhochschule Jena, Germany)
  • Varun Shridar | 2015 Master student (Technische Universitat Darmstadt. Germany)

 

 

 

Projects

EU-funded projects

 

i-NANOSWARMS · Cooperative Intelligence in Swarms of Enzyme-Nanobots (2020-2025) European Comission, ERC-CoG Samuel Sánchez
Beatriu de Pinós  · 3DcolorBots: Versatile integration of structural color in 3D printed living robots for advanced control and sensing capabilities (2020 – 2023) Agaur | MSCA – COFUND Maria Guix

 

National projects

 

Smart nano-bio-devices group
SGR Grups de recerca consolidats (2017-2021)
AGAUR, SGR Samuel Sánchez
BOTSinFLUIDS · Motion of biocatalytic nanobots in biological fluids and complex media for efficient drug delivery” (2019 – 2021)
Spanish Ministry of Science, Innovation and Universities, Retos investigación: proyectos I+D
Samuel Sánchez
IBEC’s International PhD fellowships Severo Ochoa (2016-2020) Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness Ana C. Hortelão
FPI fellowship (2017 – 2021) Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness Lucas Palacios
IBEC’s International PhD Progamme fellowship (2018-2022) Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness Xavier Arqué
FPI fellowship (2020 – 2024) Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness Noelia Ruiz

 

Privately funded projects

 

MEDIROBOTS · MEdical micro- and nano-Robots for Molecular Imaging (2018 – 2021) Fundación BBVA Samuel Sánchez
TERANOBOTS · Nanorobots for bladder cancer theranostics (2019 – 2021) Obra Social La Caixa / Caixaimpluse Samuel Sánchez
Effect of a new cosmectic active ingredient in the regulation of muscular function (2019-2021) Lipotec, S.A.U Samuel Sánchez, Tania Patiño
Feodor-Lynen Fellowship · Biohybrid wing microactuator based on integrated insect muscle cells (2020 – 2022) Alexander von Humboldt Foundation Veronika Magdanz
IBEC’s International PhD fellowships “la Caixa” Severo Ochoa (2016-2020) Obra Social La Caixa Rafael Mestre

 

Former projects

 

BEST An integrated computational and experimental predictive framework for the chemo-hydrodynamics of active catalytic colloidal particles on complex environments (2018-2020) IBEC | MSCA – COFUND Marco de Corato
2018 BIST Ignite Project · MOFtors- Enzyme-powered, metal-organic framework-based motors (2018) Barcelona Institute of Science and Technology Vincent Guillerm (ICN2), Tania Patiño (IBEC)
2018 Ignite Project · ElectroSensBioBots Towards a new generation of programable 3D printed living biobots with nanoelectronics for sensing and local stimulation (2018) Barcelona Institute of Science and Technology Maria Guix (IBEC) Steven Walston (ICN2)
Efecto de un nuevo ingrediente activo nutraceutico en la regulación de la relajación muscular (2019-2020) Lipofoods, S.L.U Samuel Sánchez, Tania Patiño
LABPATCH · Lab-in-a-patch for PKU self-assessment (2018-2020) European Commission, ERC-PoC Samuel Sánchez
Juan de la Cierva Incorporación · 3D printed soft robotics for lab on a chip applications (2018-2020)
Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness Maria Guix
ENZWIM Nanomotores de nanopartículas mesoporosas impulsados por enzimas (2017-2019) Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness, Explora Samuel Sánchez
BEST · Smart core-double-shell nanoparticles for specific and effective action against bacterial infection at different environments (2017-2019) IBEC | MSCA – COFUND Diana Vilela
Juan de la Cierva Formación (2017-2019) Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness Paul Soto
Microcleaners Active microcleaners for water remediation (2016-2018) European Commission, ERC-PoC Samuel Sánchez
MicroDia Sistemas Lab-on-a-chip basados en micro-nanomotores para el diagnóstico de enfermedades (2016-2018) Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness, Retos investigación: Proyectos I+D Samuel Sánchez
BEST (2016-2018) IBEC | MSCA – COFUND Agostino Romeo
Juan de la Cierva Formación (2016-2018) Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness Tania Patiño
LOC-Systems based on Nano/Micromachines for Food Safety Applications (2014-2016) Alexander von Humboldt Foundation Diana Vilela
Mesoporous Silica Micro/Nano-motors as Active Drug Delivery Vehicles (2014-2016) Alexander von Humboldt Foundation Ma Xing
LT-NRBS Lab-in-a-tube and Nanorobotic biosensors (2013-2017) European Commission, ERC-StG Samuel Sánchez

 

Publications


For a list of publications prior to joining IBEC, visit the MPI for Intelligent Systems website.

Mestre, R., Patiño, T., Sánchez, S., (2021). Biohybrid robotics: From the nanoscale to the macroscale Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Nanomedicine and Nanobiotechnology

Biohybrid robotics is a field in which biological entities are combined with artificial materials in order to obtain improved performance or features that are difficult to mimic with hand-made materials. Three main level of integration can be envisioned depending on the complexity of the biological entity, ranging from the nanoscale to the macroscale. At the nanoscale, enzymes that catalyze biocompatible reactions can be used as power sources for self-propelled nanoparticles of different geometries and compositions, obtaining rather interesting active matter systems that acquire importance in the biomedical field as drug delivery systems. At the microscale, single enzymes are substituted by complete cells, such as bacteria or spermatozoa, whose self-propelling capabilities can be used to transport cargo and can also be used as drug delivery systems, for in vitro fertilization practices or for biofilm removal. Finally, at the macroscale, the combinations of millions of cells forming tissues can be used to power biorobotic devices or bioactuators by using muscle cells. Both cardiac and skeletal muscle tissue have been part of remarkable examples of untethered biorobots that can crawl or swim due to the contractions of the tissue and current developments aim at the integration of several types of tissue to obtain more realistic biomimetic devices, which could lead to the next generation of hybrid robotics. Tethered bioactuators, however, result in excellent candidates for tissue models for drug screening purposes or the study of muscle myopathies due to their three-dimensional architecture. This article is categorized under: Therapeutic Approaches and Drug Discovery > Emerging Technologies Nanotechnology Approaches to Biology > Nanoscale Systems in Biology. © 2021 Wiley Periodicals LLC.

Keywords: bacteria-bots, biorobots, enzymatic nanomotors, hybrid robotics, muscle-based biorobots


Guix, Maria, Mestre, Rafael, Patiño, Tania, De Corato, Marco, Fuentes, Judith, Zarpellon, Giulia, Sánchez, Samuel, (2021). Biohybrid soft robots with self-stimulating skeletons Science Robotics 6, (53), eabe7577

Bioinspired hybrid soft robots that combine living and synthetic components are an emerging field in the development of advanced actuators and other robotic platforms (i.e., swimmers, crawlers, and walkers). The integration of biological components offers unique characteristics that artificial materials cannot precisely replicate, such as adaptability and response to external stimuli. Here, we present a skeletal muscle–based swimming biobot with a three-dimensional (3D)–printed serpentine spring skeleton that provides mechanical integrity and self-stimulation during the cell maturation process. The restoring force inherent to the spring system allows a dynamic skeleton compliance upon spontaneous muscle contraction, leading to a cyclic mechanical stimulation process that improves the muscle force output without external stimuli. Optimization of the 3D-printed skeletons is carried out by studying the geometrical stiffnesses of different designs via finite element analysis. Upon electrical actuation of the muscle tissue, two types of motion mechanisms are experimentally observed: directional swimming when the biobot is at the liquid-air interface and coasting motion when it is near the bottom surface. The integrated compliant skeleton provides both the mechanical self-stimulation and the required asymmetry for directional motion, displaying its maximum velocity at 5 hertz (800 micrometers per second, 3 body lengths per second). This skeletal muscle–based biohybrid swimmer attains speeds comparable with those of cardiac-based biohybrid robots and outperforms other muscle-based swimmers. The integration of serpentine-like structures in hybrid robotic systems allows self-stimulation processes that could lead to higher force outputs in current and future biomimetic robotic platforms.


Vilela, Diana, Blanco-Cabra, Nuria, Eguskiza, Ander, Hortelao, Ana C., Torrents, Eduard, Sanchez, Samuel, (2021). Drug-free enzyme-based bactericidal nanomotors against pathogenic bacteria ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces 13, (13), 14964-14973

The low efficacy of current conventional treatments for bacterial infections increases mortality rates worldwide. To alleviate this global health problem, we propose drug-free enzyme-based nanomotors for the treatment of bacterial urinary-tract infections. We develop nanomotors consisting of mesoporous silica nanoparticles (MSNPs) that were functionalized with either urease (U-MSNPs), lysozyme (L-MSNPs), or urease and lysozyme (M-MSNPs), and use them against nonpathogenic planktonic Escherichia coli. U-MSNPs exhibited the highest bactericidal activity due to biocatalysis of urea into NaHCO3 and NH3, which also propels U-MSNPs. In addition, U-MSNPs in concentrations above 200 μg/mL were capable of successfully reducing 60% of the biofilm biomass of a uropathogenic E. coli strain. This study thus provides a proof-of-concept, demonstrating that enzyme-based nanomotors are capable of fighting infectious diseases. This approach could potentially be extended to other kinds of diseases by selecting appropriate biomolecules.


Katuri, Jaideep, Uspal, William E., Popescu, Mihail N., Sánchez, Samuel, (2021). Inferring non-equilibrium interactions from tracer response near confined active Janus particles Science Advances 7, (18), eabd0719

Chemically active Janus particles sustain non-equilibrium spatial variations in the chemical composition of the suspending solution; these induce hydrodynamic flow and (self-)motility of the particles. Direct mapping of these fields has so far proven to be too challenging. Therefore, indirect methods are needed, e.g., deconvolving the response of “tracer” particles to the activity-induced fields. Here, we study experimentally the response of silica particles, sedimented at a wall, to active Pt/silica Janus particles. The latter are either immobilized at the wall, with the symmetry axis perpendicular or parallel to the wall, or motile. The experiments reveal complex effective interactions that are dependent on the configuration and on the state of motion of the active particle. Within the framework of a coarse-grained model, the behavior of tracers near an immobilized Janus particle can be captured qualitatively once activity-induced osmotic flows on the wall are considered.


Mestre, R., Cadefau, N., Hortelao, A. C., Grzelak, J., Gich, M., Roig, A., Sánchez, S., (2021). Nanorods Based on Mesoporous Silica Containing Iron Oxide Nanoparticles as Catalytic Nanomotors: Study of Motion Dynamics ChemNanoMat 7, (2), 134-140

Self-propelled particles and, in particular, those based on mesoporous silica, have raised considerable interest due to their potential applications in the environmental and biomedical fields thanks to their biocompatibility, tunable surface chemistry and large porosity. Although spherical particles have been widely used to fabricate nano- and micromotors, not much attention has been paid to other geometries, such as nanorods. Here, we report the fabrication of self-propelled mesoporous silica nanorods (MSNRs) that move by the catalytic decomposition of hydrogen peroxide by a sputtered Pt layer, Fe2O3 nanoparticles grown within the mesopores, or the synergistic combination of both. We show that motion can occur in two distinct sub-populations characterized by two different motion dynamics, namely enhanced diffusion or directional propulsion, especially when both catalysts are used. These results open up the possibility of using MSNRs as chassis for the fabrication of self-propelled particles for the environmental or biomedical fields.

Keywords: Mesoporous silica, Nanomotors, Nanorods, Porous materials, Self-propulsion


Hortelao, Ana C., Simó, Cristina, Guix, Maria, Guallar-Garrido, Sandra, Julián, Esther, Vilela, Diana, Rejc, Luka, Ramos-Cabrer, Pedro, Cossíoo, Unai, Gómez-Vallejo, Vanessa, Patiño, Tania, Llop, Jordi, Sánchez, Samuel, (2021). Swarming behavior and in vivo monitoring of enzymatic nanomotors within the bladder Science Robotics 6, (52), eabd2823

Enzyme-powered nanomotors are an exciting technology for biomedical applications due to their ability to navigate within biological environments using endogenous fuels. However, limited studies into their collective behavior and demonstrations of tracking enzyme nanomotors in vivo have hindered progress toward their clinical translation. Here, we report the swarming behavior of urease-powered nanomotors and its tracking using positron emission tomography (PET), both in vitro and in vivo. For that, mesoporous silica nanoparticles containing urease enzymes and gold nanoparticles were used as nanomotors. To image them, nanomotors were radiolabeled with either 124I on gold nanoparticles or 18F-labeled prosthetic group to urease. In vitro experiments showed enhanced fluid mixing and collective migration of nanomotors, demonstrating higher capability to swim across complex paths inside microfabricated phantoms, compared with inactive nanomotors. In vivo intravenous administration in mice confirmed their biocompatibility at the administered dose and the suitability of PET to quantitatively track nanomotors in vivo. Furthermore, nanomotors were administered directly into the bladder of mice by intravesical injection. When injected with the fuel, urea, a homogeneous distribution was observed even after the entrance of fresh urine. By contrast, control experiments using nonmotile nanomotors (i.e., without fuel or without urease) resulted in sustained phase separation, indicating that the nanomotors’ self-propulsion promotes convection and mixing in living reservoirs. Active collective dynamics, together with the medical imaging tracking, constitute a key milestone and a step forward in the field of biomedical nanorobotics, paving the way toward their use in theranostic applications.


Wang, Lei, Song, Shidong, van Hest, Jan, Abdelmohsen, Loai K. E. A., Huang, Xin, Sánchez, Samuel, (2020). Biomimicry of cellular motility and communication based on synthetic soft-architectures Small 16, (27), 1907680

Cells, sophisticated membrane‐bound units that contain the fundamental molecules of life, provide a precious library for inspiration and motivation for both society and academia. Scientists from various disciplines have made great endeavors toward the understanding of the cellular evolution by engineering artificial counterparts (protocells) that mimic or initiate structural or functional cellular aspects. In this regard, several works have discussed possible building blocks, designs, functions, or dynamics that can be applied to achieve this goal. Although great progress has been made, fundamental—yet complex—behaviors such as cellular communication, responsiveness to environmental cues, and motility remain a challenge, yet to be resolved. Herein, recent efforts toward utilizing soft systems for cellular mimicry are summarized—following the main outline of cellular evolution, from basic compartmentalization, and biological reactions for energy production, to motility and communicative behaviors between artificial cell communities or between artificial and natural cell communities. Finally, the current challenges and future perspectives in the field are discussed, hoping to inspire more future research and to help the further advancement of this field.


van Moolenbroek, Guido T., Patiño, Tania, Llop, Jordi, Sánchez, Samuel, (2020). Engineering intelligent nanosystems for enhanced medical imaging Advanced Intelligent Systems 2, (10), 2000087

Medical imaging serves to obtain anatomical and physiological data, supporting medical diagnostics as well as providing therapeutic evaluation and guidance. A variety of contrast agents have been developed to enhance the recorded signals and to provide molecular imaging. However, fast clearance from the body or nonspecific biodistribution often limit their efficiency, constituting challenges that need to be overcome. Nanoparticle-based systems are currently emerging as versatile and highly integrated platforms providing improved circulating times, tissue specificity, high loading capacity for signaling moieties, and multimodal imaging features. Furthermore, nanoengineered devices can be tuned for specific applications and the development of responsive behaviors. Responses include in situ modulation of nanoparticle size, increased intratissue mobility through active propulsion of motorized particles, and active modulation of the particle surroundings such as the extracellular matrix for an improved penetration and retention at the desired locations. Once accumulated in the targeted tissue, smart nanoparticle-based contrast agents can provide molecular sensing of biomarkers or characteristics of the tissue microenvironment. In this case, the signal or contrast provided by the nanosystem is responsive to the presence or concentration of an analyte. Herein, recent developments of intelligent nanosystems to improve medical imaging are presented.


Wang, Lei, Marciello, Marzia, Estévez-Gay, Miquel, Soto Rodriguez, Paul E. D., Luengo Morato, Yurena, Iglesias-Fernández, Javier, Huang, Xin, Osuna, Sílvia, Filice, Marco, Sánchez, Samuel, (2020). Enzyme conformation influences the performance of lipase-powered nanomotors Angewandte Chemie - International Edition 59, (47), 21080-21087

Enzyme‐powered micro/nanomotors have myriads of potential applications in various areas. To efficiently reach those applications, it is necessary and critical to understand the fundamental aspects affecting the motion dynamics. Herein, we explored the impact of enzyme orientation on the performance of lipase-powered nanomotors by tuning the lipase immobilization strategies. The influence of the lipase orientation and lid conformation on substrate binding and catalysis was analyzed using molecular dynamics simulations. Besides, the motion performance indicates that the hydrophobic binding (via OTES) represents the best orienting strategy, providing 48.4 % and 95.4 % increase in diffusion coefficient compared to hydrophilic binding (via APTES) and Brownian motion (no fuel), respectively (with C[triacetin] of 100 mm). This work provides vital evidence for the importance of immobilization strategy and corresponding enzyme orientation for the catalytic activity and in turn, the motion performance of nanomotors, and is thus helpful to future applications.


Yang, Y., Arqué, X., Patiño, T., Guillerm, V., Blersch, P. R., Pérez-Carvajal, J., Imaz, I., Maspoch, D., Sánchez, S., (2020). Enzyme-powered porous micromotors built from a hierarchical micro- and mesoporous UiO-type metal-organic framework Journal of the American Chemical Society 142, (50), 20962–20967

Here, we report the design, synthesis, and functional testing of enzyme-powered porous micromotors built from a metal–organic framework (MOF). We began by subjecting a presynthesized microporous UiO-type MOF to ozonolysis, to confer it with mesopores sufficiently large to adsorb and host the enzyme catalase (size: 6–10 nm). We then encapsulated catalase inside the mesopores, observing that they are hosted in those mesopores located at the subsurface of the MOF crystals. In the presence of H2O2 fuel, MOF motors (or MOFtors) exhibit jet-like propulsion enabled by enzymatic generation of oxygen bubbles. Moreover, thanks to their hierarchical pore system, the MOFtors retain sufficient free space for adsorption of additional targeted species, which we validated by testing a MOFtor for removal of rhodamine B during self-propulsion.


Pijpers, Imke A. B., Cao, Shoupeng, Llopis-Lorente, Antoni, Zhu, Jianzhi, Song, Shidong, Joosten, Rick R. M., Meng, Fenghua, Friedrich, Heiner, Williams, David S., Sánchez, Samuel, van Hest, Jan C. M., Abdelmohsen, Loai K. E. A., (2020). Hybrid biodegradable nanomotors through compartmentalized synthesis Nano Letters 20, (6), 4472-4480

Designer particles that are embued with nanomachinery for autonomous motion have great potential for biomedical applications; however, their development is highly demanding with respect to biodegradability/compatibility. Previously, biodegradable propulsive machinery based on enzymes has been presented. However, enzymes are highly susceptible to proteolysis and deactivation in biological milieu. Biodegradable hybrid nanomotors powered by catalytic inorganic nanoparticles provide a proteolytically stable alternative to those based upon enzymes. Herein we describe the assembly of hybrid biodegradable nanomotors capable of transducing chemical energy into motion. Such nanomotors are constructed through a process of compartmentalized synthesis of inorganic MnO2 nanoparticles (MnPs) within the cavity of organic stomatocytes. We show that the nanomotors remain active in cellular environments and do not compromise cell viability. Effective tumor penetration of hybrid nanomotors is also demonstrated in proof-of-principle experiments. Overall, this work represents a new prospect for engineering of nanomotors that can retain their functionality within biological contexts.


Arqué, Xavier, Andrés, Xavier, Mestre, Rafael, Ciraulo, Bernard, Ortega Arroyo, Jaime, Quidant, Romain, Patiño, Tania, Sánchez, Samuel, (2020). Ionic species affect the self-propulsion of urease-powered micromotors Research 2020, 2424972

Enzyme-powered motors self-propel through the catalysis of in situ bioavailable fuels, which makes them excellent candidates for biomedical applications. However, fundamental issues like their motion in biological fluids and the understanding of the propulsion mechanism are critical aspects to be tackled before a future application in biomedicine. Herein, we investigated the physicochemical effects of ionic species on the self-propulsion of urease-powered micromotors. Results showed that the presence of PBS, NaOH, NaCl, and HEPES reduced self-propulsion of urease-powered micromotors pointing towards ion-dependent mechanisms of motion. We studied the 3D motion of urease micromotors using digital holographic microscopy to rule out any motor-surface interaction as the cause of motion decay when salts are present in the media. In order to protect and minimize the negative effect of ionic species on micromotors’ performance, we coated the motors with methoxypolyethylene glycol amine (mPEG) showing higher speed compared to noncoated motors at intermediate ionic concentrations. These results provide new insights into the mechanism of urease-powered micromotors, study the effect of ionic media, and contribute with potential solutions to mitigate the reduction of mobility of enzyme-powered micromotors.


Hortelão , Ana C., García-Jimeno, Sonia, Cano-Sarabia, Mary, Patiño, Tania, Maspoch, Daniel, Sánchez, Samuel, (2020). LipoBots: Using liposomal vesicles as protective shell of urease-based nanomotors Advanced Functional Materials 30, (42), 2002767

Developing self-powered nanomotors made of biocompatible and functional components is of paramount importance in future biomedical applications. Herein, the functional features of LipoBots (LBs) composed of a liposomal carrier containing urease enzymes for propulsion, including their protective properties against acidic conditions and their on-demand triggered activation, are reported. Given the functional nature of liposomes, enzymes can be either encapsulated or coated on the surface of the vesicles. The influence of the location of urease on motion dynamics is first studied, finding that the surface-urease LBs undergo self-propulsion whereas the encapsulated-urease LBs do not. However, adding a percolating agent present in the bile salts to the encapsulated-urease LBs triggers active motion. Moreover, it is found that when both types of nanomotors are exposed to a medium of similar pH found in the stomach, the surface-urease LBs lose activity and motion capabilities, while the encapsulated-urease LBs retain activity and mobility. The results for the protection enzyme activity through encapsulation within liposomes and in situ triggering of the motion of LBs upon exposure to bile salts may open new avenues for the use of liposome-based nanomotors in drug delivery, for example, in the gastrointestinal tract, where bile salts are naturally present in the intestine.


Mestre, R., Cadefau, N., Hortelão, A. C., Grzelak, J., Gich, M., Roig, A., Sánchez, S., (2020). Nanorods based on mesoporous silica containing iron oxide nanoparticles as catalytic nanomotors: Study of motion dynamics ChemNanoMat 7, (2), 134-140

Self-propelled particles and, in particular, those based on mesoporous silica, have raised considerable interest due to their potential applications in the environmental and biomedical fields thanks to their biocompatibility, tunable surface chemistry and large porosity. Although spherical particles have been widely used to fabricate nano- and micromotors, not much attention has been paid to other geometries, such as nanorods. Here, we report the fabrication of self-propelled mesoporous silica nanorods (MSNRs) that move by the catalytic decomposition of hydrogen peroxide by a sputtered Pt layer, Fe2O3 nanoparticles grown within the mesopores, or the synergistic combination of both. We show that motion can occur in two distinct sub-populations characterized by two different motion dynamics, namely enhanced diffusion or directional propulsion, especially when both catalysts are used. These results open up the possibility of using MSNRs as chassis for the fabrication of self-propelled particles for the environmental or biomedical fields

Keywords: Mesoporous silica, Nanomotors, Nanorods, Porous materials, Self-propulsion


Kaang, Byung Kwon, Mestre, Rafael, Kang, Dong-Chang, Sánchez, Samuel, Kim, Dong-Pyo, (2020). Scalable and integrated flow synthesis of triple-responsive nano-motors via microfluidic Pickering emulsification Applied Materials Today 21, 100854

Artificial micro-/nano-motors are tiny machines as newly emerging tools capable of achieving numerous tasks. In principle, the self-phoretic motions require asymmetric structures in geometry and chemistry. However, conventional production techniques suffered from complex and time consuming multi-step process in low uniformity, and difficult to endow multi-functions into motors. This work disclosed a continuous-flow synthesis of triple-responsive (thermophoretic, chemical and magnetic movement) nano-motors (m-SiO2/Fe3O4-Pdop/Pt) via microfluidic Pickering emulsification in a process of integrated and scalable manner. The droplet microfluidic process allows efficient self-assembly of the silica nanoparticles surrounding the spherical interface of resin droplet, rendering excellent Pickering efficiency and reproducibility, and followed by anisotropic decoration of polydopamine (Pdop) and Pt catalyst in a serial flow process. The obtained Janus nanoparticles reveal double- or triple-responsive self-propulsions with synergic mobility by combining thermophoresis powered by light, catalytic driven motion in H2O2 or magnetic movement by magnet. Further, a non-metallic polydopamine based thermophoretic motion as well as an automated nano-cleaner for rapid water purification by dye removal are convincingly functioned. Finally, this novel integrated flow strategy proves a scalable manufacturing production (> 0.7 g hr−1) of the nano-motors using inexpensive single microreactor, fulfilling quantitative and qualitative needs for versatile applications.

Keywords: Microfluidics Pickering emulsions, Triple-responsive motor, Adsorbent


Xu, D., Wang, Y., Liang, C., You, Y., Sanchez, S., Ma, X., (2020). Self-propelled micro/nanomotors for on-demand biomedical cargo transportation Small 16, (27), 1902464

Micro/nanomotors (MNMs) are miniaturized machines that can perform assigned tasks at the micro/nanoscale. Over the past decade, significant progress has been made in the design, preparation, and applications of MNMs that are powered by converting different sources of energy into mechanical force, to realize active movement and fulfill on-demand tasks. MNMs can be navigated to desired locations with precise controllability based on different guidance mechanisms. A considerable research effort has gone into demonstrating that MNMs possess the potential of biomedical cargo loading, transportation, and targeted release to achieve therapeutic functions. Herein, the recent advances of self-propelled MNMs for on-demand biomedical cargo transportation, including their self-propulsion mechanisms, guidance strategies, as well as proof-of-concept studies for biological applications are presented. In addition, some of the major challenges and possible opportunities of MNMs are identified for future biomedical applications in the hope that it may inspire future research.

Keywords: Biomedical applications, Cargo transportation, Guidance strategies, Micro/nanomotors, Self-propulsion


De Corato, Marco, Arqué, Xavier, Patiño, Tania, Arroyo, Marino, Sánchez, Samuel, Pagonabarraga, Ignacio, (2020). Self-propulsion of active colloids via ion release: Theory and experiments Physical Review Letters 124, (10), 108001

We study the self-propulsion of a charged colloidal particle that releases ionic species using theory and experiments. We relax the assumptions of thin Debye length and weak nonequilibrium effects assumed in classical phoretic models. This leads to a number of unexpected features that cannot be rationalized considering the classic phoretic framework: an active particle can reverse the direction of motion by increasing the rate of ion release and can propel even with zero surface charge. Our theory predicts that there are optimal conditions for self-propulsion and a novel regime in which the velocity is insensitive to the background electrolyte concentration. The theoretical results quantitatively capture the salt-dependent velocity measured in our experiments using active colloids that propel by decomposing urea via a surface enzymatic reaction.


De Corato, M., Pagonabarraga, I., Abdelmohsen, L. K. E. A., Sánchez, S., Arroyo, M., (2020). Spontaneous polarization and locomotion of an active particle with surface-mobile enzymes Physical Review Fluids 5, (12), 122001

We examine a mechanism of locomotion of active particles whose surface is uniformly coated with mobile enzymes. The enzymes catalyze a reaction that drives phoretic flows but their homogeneous distribution forbids locomotion by symmetry. We find that the ability of the enzymes to migrate over the surface combined with self-phoresis can lead to a spontaneous symmetry-breaking instability whereby the homogeneous distribution of enzymes polarizes and the particle propels. The instability is driven by the advection of enzymes by the phoretic flows and occurs above a critical Péclet number. The transition to polarized motile states occurs via a supercritical or subcritical pitchfork bifurcations, the latter of which enables hysteresis and coexistence of uniform and polarized states.

Keywords: Biomimetic & bio-inspired materials, Locomotion, Surface-driven phase separation


Llopis-Lorente, A., García-Fernández, A., Murillo-Cremaes, N., Hortelão, A. C., Patinño, T., Villalonga, R., Sancenón, F., Martínez-Máñer, R., Sánchez, S., (2019). Enzyme-powered gated mesoporous silica nanomotors for on-command intracellular payload delivery ACS Nano 13, (10), 12171-12183

The introduction of stimuli-responsive cargo release capabilities on self-propelled micro- and nanomotors holds enormous potential in a number of applications in the biomedical field. Herein, we report the preparation of mesoporous silica nanoparticles gated with pH-responsive supramolecular nanovalves and equipped with urease enzymes which act as chemical engines to power the nanomotors. The nanoparticles are loaded with different cargo molecules ([Ru(bpy)3]Cl2 (bpy = 2,2′-bipyridine) or doxorubicin), grafted with benzimidazole groups on the outer surface, and capped by the formation of inclusion complexes between benzimidazole and cyclodextrin-modified urease. The nanomotor exhibits enhanced Brownian motion in the presence of urea. Moreover, no cargo is released at neutral pH, even in the presence of the biofuel urea, due to the blockage of the pores by the bulky benzimidazole:cyclodextrin-urease caps. Cargo delivery is only triggered on-command at acidic pH due to the protonation of benzimidazole groups, the dethreading of the supramolecular nanovalves, and the subsequent uncapping of the nanoparticles. Studies with HeLa cells indicate that the presence of biofuel urea enhances nanoparticle internalization and both [Ru(bpy)3]Cl2 or doxorubicin intracellular release due to the acidity of lysosomal compartments. Gated enzyme-powered nanomotors shown here display some of the requirements for ideal drug delivery carriers such as the capacity to self-propel and the ability to “sense” the environment and deliver the payload on demand in response to predefined stimuli.

Keywords: Controlled release, Drug delivery, Enzymatic catalysis, Gatekeepers, Nanocarriers, Nanomotors, Stimuli-responsive nanomaterials


Hortelão, Ana C., Carrascosa, Rafael, Murillo-Cremaes, Nerea, Patiño, Tania, Sánchez, Samuel, (2019). Targeting 3D bladder cancer spheroids with urease-powered nanomotors ACS Nano 13, (1), 429-439

Cancer is one of the main causes of death around the world, lacking efficient clinical treatments that generally present severe side effects. In recent years, various nanosystems have been explored to specifically target tumor tissues, enhancing the efficacy of cancer treatment and minimizing the side effects. In particular, bladder cancer is the ninth most common cancer worldwide and presents a high survival rate but serious recurrence levels, demanding an improvement in the existent therapies. Here, we present urease-powered nanomotors based on mesoporous silica nanoparticles that contain both polyethylene glycol and anti-FGFR3 antibody on their outer surface to target bladder cancer cells in the form of 3D spheroids. The autonomous motion is promoted by urea, which acts as fuel and is inherently present at high concentrations in the bladder. Antibody-modified nanomotors were able to swim in both simulated and real urine, showing a substrate-dependent enhanced diffusion. The internalization efficiency of the antibody-modified nanomotors into the spheroids in the presence of urea was significantly higher compared with antibody-modified passive particles or bare nanomotors. Furthermore, targeted nanomotors resulted in a higher suppression of spheroid proliferation compared with bare nanomotors, which could arise from the local ammonia production and the therapeutic effect of anti-FGFR3. These results hold significant potential for the development of improved targeted cancer therapy and diagnostics using biocompatible nanomotors.

Keywords: 3D cell culture, Bladder cancer, Enzymatic catalysis, Nanomachines, Nanomotors, Self-propulsion, Targeting


Wang, Lei, Hortelão, Ana C., Huang, Xin, Sánchez, Samuel, (2019). Lipase-powered mesoporous silica nanomotors for triglyceride degradation Angewandte Chemie International Edition 58, (24), 7992-7996

We report lipase-based nanomotors that are capable of enhanced Brownian motion over long periods of time in triglyceride solution and of degrading triglyceride droplets that mimic “blood lipids”. We achieved about 40 min of enhanced diffusion of lipase-modified mesoporous silica nanoparticles (MSNPs) through a biocatalytic reaction between lipase and its corresponding water-soluble oil substrate (triacetin) as fuel, which resulted in an enhanced diffusion coefficient (ca. 50 % increase) at low triacetin concentration (<10 mm). Lipase not only serves as the power engine but also as a highly efficient cleaner for the triglyceride droplets (e.g., tributyrin) in PBS solution, which could yield potential biomedical applications, for example, for dealing with diseases related to the accumulation of triglycerides, or for environmental remediation, for example, for the degradation of oil spills.

Keywords: Enzyme nanomotors, Lipase, Micromotors, Oil removal, Self-propulsion


Arqué, Xavier, Romero-Rivera, Adrian, Feixas, Ferran, Patiño, Tania, Osuna, Sílvia, Sánchez, Samuel, (2019). Intrinsic enzymatic properties modulate the self-propulsion of micromotors Nature Communications 10, (1), 2826

Bio-catalytic micro- and nanomotors self-propel by the enzymatic conversion of substrates into products. Despite the advances in the field, the fundamental aspects underlying enzyme-powered self-propulsion have rarely been studied. In this work, we select four enzymes (urease, acetylcholinesterase, glucose oxidase, and aldolase) to be attached on silica microcapsules and study how their turnover number and conformational dynamics affect the self-propulsion, combining both an experimental and molecular dynamics simulations approach. Urease and acetylcholinesterase, the enzymes with higher catalytic rates, are the only enzymes capable of producing active motion. Molecular dynamics simulations reveal that urease and acetylcholinesterase display the highest degree of flexibility near the active site, which could play a role on the catalytic process. We experimentally assess this hypothesis for urease micromotors through competitive inhibition (acetohydroxamic acid) and increasing enzyme rigidity (β-mercaptoethanol). We conclude that the conformational changes are a precondition of urease catalysis, which is essential to generate self-propulsion.

Keywords: Biocatalysis, Immobilized enzymes, Molecular machines and motors


Patiño, Tania, Porchetta, Alessandro, Jannasch, Anita, Lladó, Anna, Stumpp, Tom, Schäffer, Erik, Ricci, Francesco, Sánchez, Samuel, (2019). Self-sensing enzyme-powered micromotors equipped with pH-responsive DNA nanoswitches Nano Letters 19, (6), 3440-3447

Biocatalytic micro- and nanomotors have emerged as a new class of active matter self-propelled through enzymatic reactions. The incorporation of functional nanotools could enable the rational design of multifunctional micromotors for simultaneous real-time monitoring of their environment and activity. Herein, we report the combination of DNA nanotechnology and urease-powered micromotors as multifunctional tools able to swim, simultaneously sense the pH of their surrounding environment, and monitor their intrinsic activity. With this purpose, a FRET-labeled triplex DNA nanoswitch for pH sensing was immobilized onto the surface of mesoporous silica-based micromotors. During self-propulsion, urea decomposition and the subsequent release of ammonia led to a fast pH increase, which was detected by real-time monitoring of the FRET efficiency through confocal laser scanning microscopy at different time points (i.e., 30 s, 2 and 10 min). Furthermore, the analysis of speed, enzymatic activity, and propulsive force displayed a similar exponential decay, matching the trend observed for the FRET efficiency. These results illustrate the potential of using specific DNA nanoswitches not only for sensing the micromotors’ surrounding microenvironment but also as an indicator of the micromotor activity status, which may aid to the understanding of their performance in different media and in different applications.

Keywords: Micromotors, DNA-nanoswitch, pH detection, Self-propulsion, Nanosensors, Nanomotors


Mestre, Rafael, Patiño, Tania, Barceló, Xavier, Anand, Shivesh, Pérez-Jiménez, Ariadna, Sánchez, Samuel, (2019). Force modulation and adaptability of 3D-bioprinted biological actuators based on skeletal muscle tissue Advanced Materials Technologies 4, (2), 1800631

Abstract The integration of biological systems into robotic devices might provide them with capabilities acquired from natural systems and significantly boost their performance. These abilities include real-time bio-sensing, self-organization, adaptability, or self-healing. As many muscle-based bio-hybrid robots and bio-actuators arise in the literature, the question of whether these features can live up to their expectations becomes increasingly substantial. Herein, the force generation and adaptability of skeletal-muscle-based bio-actuators undergoing long-term training protocols are analyzed. The 3D-bioprinting technique is used to fabricate bio-actuators that are functional, responsive, and have highly aligned myotubes. The bio-actuators are 3D-bioprinted together with two artificial posts, allowing to use it as a force measuring platform. In addition, the force output evolution and dynamic gene expression of the bio-actuators are studied to evaluate their degree of adaptability according to training protocols of different frequencies and mechanical stiffness, finding that their force generation could be modulated to different requirements. These results shed some light into the fundamental mechanisms behind the adaptability of muscle-based bio-actuators and highlight the potential of using 3D bioprinting as a rapid and cost-effective tool for the fabrication of custom-designed soft bio-robots.


Palacios, L. S., Katuri, J., Pagonabarraga, I., Sánchez, S., (2019). Guidance of active particles at liquid-liquid interfaces near surfaces Soft Matter 15, (32), 6581-6588

Artificial microswimmers have the potential for applications in many fields, ranging from targeted cargo delivery and mobile sensing to environmental remediation. In many of these applications, the artificial swimmers will operate in complex media necessarily involving liquid–liquid interfaces. Here, we experimentally study the motion of chemically powered phoretic active colloids close to liquid–liquid interfaces while swimming next to a solid substrate. In a system involving this complex geometry, we find that the active particles have an alignment interaction with both the neighbouring solid and liquid interfaces, allowing for a robust guiding mechanism along the liquid interface. We compare with minimal active Brownian simulations to show that these phoretically active particles stay along the interfaces for much longer times and lengths than expected for standard active Brownian particles. We also track the propulsion speeds of these particles and find a reduced speed close to the liquid–liquid interface. We report an interesting non-linear dependence of this reduction on the particle's bulk speed..


Mestre, R., Patiño, T., Guix, M., Barceló, X., Sánchez, S., (2019). Design, optimization and characterization of bio-hybrid actuators based on 3D-bioprinted skeletal muscle tissue Biomimetic and Biohybrid Systems 8th International Conference, Living Machines 2019 (Lecture Notes in Computer Science) , Springer International Publishing (Nara, Japan) 11556, 205-215

The field of bio-hybrid robotics aims at the integration of biological components with artificial materials in order to take advantage of many unique features occurring in nature, such as adaptability, self-healing or resilience. In particular, skeletal muscle tissue has been used to fabricate bio-actuators or bio-robots that can perform simple actions. In this paper, we present 3D bioprinting as a versatile technique to develop these kinds of actuators and we focus on the importance of optimizing the designs and properly characterizing their performance. For that, we introduce a method to calculate the force generated by the bio-actuators based on the deflection of two posts included in the bio-actuator design by means of image processing algorithms. Finally, we present some results related to the adaptation, controllability and force modulation of our bio-actuators, paving the way towards a design- and optimization-driven development of more complex 3D-bioprinted bio-actuators.

Keywords: 3D bioprinting, Bio-hybrid robotics, Muscle-based bio-actuators


Martin, Aida, Vilela, Diana, Escarpa, Alberto, (2019). Carbon nanomaterials for advanced analytical micro- and nanotechnologies Carbon-based Nanomaterials in Analytical Chemistry (ed. Garcia, C. D., Crevillén, A. G, Escarpa, A.), The Royal Society of Chemistry (London, UK) , 200-240

The most recent advances in analytical chemistry have focused on developing new devices in the micro- and nano-scale capable of sensing on a similar scale to analyzed molecules and biomarkers. Thus, microfluidic chips and micro- and nanomotors have emerged as advanced nanotechnologies that provide low volume, rapid and simple analysis. Lately, the incorporation of carbon nanomaterials, such as carbon nanotubes and graphene to these analytical platforms, has opened up new opportunities towards improving the figures of merit in the final analysis. From microfluidic analytical tools to the cutting edge micro- and nanomotors, we will explore the advantages and challenges of these two vanguard technologies, and the incorporation of carbon nanomaterials for advanced analyte detection.


Patiño, Tania, Arqué, Xavier, Mestre, Rafael, Palacios, Lucas, Sánchez, Samuel, (2018). Fundamental aspects of enzyme-powered micro- and nanoswimmers Accounts of Chemical Research 51, (11), 2662–2671

ConspectusSelf-propulsion at the nanoscale constitutes a challenge due to the need for overcoming viscous forces and Brownian motion. Inspired by nature, artificial micro- and nanomachines powered by catalytic reactions have been developed. Due to the toxicity of the most commonly used fuels, enzyme catalysis has emerged as a versatile and biocompatible alternative to generate self-propulsion. Different swimmer sizes, ranging from the nanoscale to the microscale, and geometries, including tubular and spherical shapes, have been explored. However, there is still a lack of understanding of the mechanisms underlying enzyme-mediated propulsion. Size, shape, enzyme quantity and distribution, as well as the intrinsic enzymatic properties, may play crucial roles in motion dynamics.In this Account, we present the efforts carried out by our group and others by the community on the use of enzymes to power micro- and nanoswimmers. We examine the different structures, materials, and enzymes reported so far to fabricate biocatalytic micro- and nanoswimmers with special emphasis on their effect in motion dynamics. We discuss the development of tubular micro- and nanojets, focusing on the different fabrication methods and the effect of length and enzyme localization on their motion behavior. In the case of spherical swimmers, we highlight the role of asymmetry in enzyme coverage and how it can affect their motion dynamics. Different approaches have been described to generate asymmetric distribution of enzymes, namely, Janus particles, polymeric vesicles, and non-Janus particles with patch-like enzyme distribution that we recently reported. We also examine the correlation between enzyme kinetics and active motion. Enzyme activity, and consequently speed, can be modulated by modifying substrate concentration or adding specific inhibitors. Finally, we review the theory of active Brownian motion and how the size of the particles can influence the analysis of the results. Fundamentally, nanoscaled swimmers are more affected by Brownian fluctuations than microsized swimmers, and therefore, their motion is presented as an enhanced diffusion with respect to the passive case. Microswimmers, however, can overcome these fluctuations and show propulsive or ballistic trajectories. We provide some considerations on how to analyze the motion of these swimmers from an experimental point of view. Despite the rapid progress in enzyme-based micro- and nanoswimmers, deeper understanding of the mechanisms of motion is needed, and further efforts should be aimed to study their lifetime, long-term stability, and ability to navigate in complex media.


Hortelão, A. C., Patiño, T., Perez-Jiménez, A., Blanco, A., Sánchez, S., (2018). Enzyme-powered nanobots enhance anticancer drug delivery Advanced Functional Materials 28, 1705086

The use of enzyme catalysis to power micro- and nanomotors exploiting biocompatible fuels has opened new ventures for biomedical applications such as the active transport and delivery of specific drugs to the site of interest. Here, urease-powered nanomotors (nanobots) for doxorubicin (Dox) anticancer drug loading, release, and efficient delivery to cells are presented. These mesoporous silica-based core-shell nanobots are able to self-propel in ionic media, as confirmed by optical tracking and dynamic light scattering analysis. A four-fold increase in drug release is achieved by nanobots after 6 h compared to their passive counterparts. Furthermore, the use of Dox-loaded nanobots presents an enhanced anticancer efficiency toward HeLa cells, which arises from a synergistic effect of the enhanced drug release and the ammonia produced at high concentrations of urea substrate. A higher content of Dox inside HeLa cells is detected after 1, 4, 6, and 24 h incubation with active nanobots compared to passive Dox-loaded nanoparticles. The improvement in drug delivery efficiency achieved by enzyme-powered nanobots may hold potential toward their use in future biomedical applications such as the substrate-triggered release of drugs in target locations.

Keywords: Drug delivery, Enzymatic catalysis, Nanobots, Nanomachines, Nanomotors


Wang, Xu, Sridhar, Varun, Guo, Surong, Talebi, Nahid, Miguel-López, Albert, Hahn, Kersten, van Aken, Peter A., Sánchez, Samuel, (2018). Fuel-free nanocap-like motors actuated under visible light Advanced Functional Materials 28, (25), 1705862

The motion of nanomotors triggered by light sources will provide new alternative routes to power nanoarchitectures without the need of chemical fuels. However, most light-driven nanomotors are triggered by UV-light, near infrared reflection, or laser sources. It is demonstrated that nanocap shaped Au/TiO2 nanomotors (175 nm in diameter) display increased Brownian motion in the presence of broad spectrum visible light. The motion results from the surface plasmon resonance effect leading to self-electrophoresis between the Au and TiO2 layers, a mechanism called plasmonic photocatalytic effect in the field of photocatalysis. This mechanism is experimentally characterized by electron energy loss spectroscopy, energy-filtered transmission electron microscopy, and optical video tracking. This mechanism is also studied in a more theoretical manner using numerical finite-difference time-domain simulations. The ability to power nanomaterials with visible light may result in entirely new applications for externally powered micro/nanomotors.

Keywords: Enhanced Brownian motion, Fuel-free nanomotors, Nanomachines, Self-electrophoresis, Visible light


Patiño, Tania, Feiner-Gracia, Natalia, Arqué, Xavier, Miguel-López, Albert, Jannasch, Anita, Stumpp, Tom, Schäffer, Erik, Albertazzi, Lorenzo, Sánchez, Samuel, (2018). Influence of enzyme quantity and distribution on the self-propulsion of non-Janus urease-powered micromotors Journal of the American Chemical Society 140, (25), 7896-7903

The use of enzyme catalysis to power micro- and nanomachines offers unique features such as biocompatibility, versatility, and fuel bioavailability. Yet, the key parameters underlying the motion behavior of enzyme-powered motors are not completely understood. Here, we investigate the role of enzyme distribution and quantity on the generation of active motion. Two different micromotor architectures based on either polystyrene (PS) or polystyrene coated with a rough silicon dioxide shell (PS@SiO2) were explored. A directional propulsion with higher speed was observed for PS@SiO2 motors when compared to their PS counterparts. We made use of stochastically optical reconstruction microscopy (STORM) to precisely detect single urease molecules conjugated to the micromotors surface with a high spatial resolution. An asymmetric distribution of enzymes around the micromotor surface was observed for both PS and PS@SiO2 architectures, indicating that the enzyme distribution was not the only parameter affecting the motion behavior. We quantified the number of enzymes present on the micromotor surface and observed a 10-fold increase in the number of urease molecules for PS@SiO2 motors compared to PS-based micromotors. To further investigate the number of enzymes required to generate a self-propulsion, PS@SiO2 particles were functionalized with varying amounts of urease molecules and the resulting speed and propulsive force were measured by optical tracking and optical tweezers, respectively. Surprisingly, both speed and force depended in a nonlinear fashion on the enzyme coverage. To break symmetry for active propulsion, we found that a certain threshold number of enzymes molecules per micromotor was necessary, indicating that activity may be due to a critical phenomenon. Taken together, these results provide new insights into the design features of micro/nanomotors to ensure an efficient development.


Parmar, Jemish, Vilela, Diana, Villa, Katherine, Wang, Joseph, Sanchez, Samuel, (2018). Micro- and nanomotors as active environmental microcleaners and sensors Journal of the American Chemical Society 140, (30), 9317-9331

The quest to provide clean water to the entire population has led to a tremendous boost in the development of environmental nanotechnology. Towards this end, micro/nanomotors are emerging as attractive tools to improve the removal of various pollutants. The micro/nanomotors are either designed with functional materials in their structure, or are modified to target pollutants. The active motion of these motors improves the mixing and mass transfer, greatly enhancing the rate of various remediation processes. Their motion can also be used as an indicator of the presence of a pollutant for sensing purposes. In this Perspective, we discuss different chemical aspects of micromotors mediated environmental clean-up and sensing strategies along with their scalability, reuse and cost associated challenges.


Katuri, Jaideep, Caballero, David, Voituriez, R., Samitier, Josep, Sanchez, Samuel, (2018). Directed flow of micromotors through alignment interactions with micropatterned ratchets ACS Nano 12, (7), 7282-7291

To achieve control over naturally diffusive, out-of-equilibrium systems composed of self-propelled particles, such as cells or self-phoretic colloids, is a long-standing challenge in active matter physics. The inherently random motion of these active particles can be rectified in the presence of local and periodic asymmetric cues given that a non-trivial interaction exists between the self-propelled particle and the cues. Here, we exploit the phoretic and hydrodynamic interactions of synthetic micromotors with local topographical features to break the time-reversal symmetry of particle trajectories and to direct a macroscopic flow of micromotors. We show that the orientational alignment induced on the micromotors by the topographical features, together with their geometrical asymmetry, are crucial in generating directional particle flow. We also show that our system can be used to concentrate micromotors in confined spaces and identify the interactions responsible for this effect. Finally, we develop a minimal model which identifies the main parameters of the system responsible for the observed rectification. Overall, our system allows for robust control over both temporal and spatial distribution of synthetic micromotors.

Keywords: Active colloids, Directional control, Janus particles, Micromotors, Self-propulsion


Vilela, Diana, Cossío, Unai, Parmar, Jemish, Martínez-Villacorta, Angel M., Gómez-Vallejo, Vanessa, Llop, Jordi, Sánchez, Samuel, (2018). Medical imaging for the tracking of micromotors ACS Nano 12, (2), 1120-1227

Micro/nanomotors are useful tools for several biomedical applications, including targeted drug delivery and minimally invasive microsurgeries. However, major challenges such as in vivo imaging need to be addressed before they can be safely applied on a living body. Here, we show that positron emission tomography (PET), a molecular imaging technique widely used in medical imaging, can also be used to track a large population of tubular Au/PEDOT/Pt micromotors. Chemisorption of an iodine isotope onto the micromotor’s Au surface rendered them detectable by PET, and we could track their movements in a tubular phantom over time frames of up to 15 min. In a second set of experiments, micromotors and the bubbles released during self-propulsion were optically tracked by video imaging and bright-field microscopy. The results from direct optical tracking agreed with those from PET tracking, demonstrating that PET is a suitable technique for the imaging of large populations of active micromotors in opaque environments, thus opening opportunities for the use of this mature imaging technology for the in vivo localization of artificial swimmers.


Katuri, Jaideep, Uspal, William E., Simmchen, Juliane, Miguel-López, Albert, Sánchez, Samuel, (2018). Cross-stream migration of active particles Science Advances 4, (1), eaao1755

For natural microswimmers, the interplay of swimming activity and external flow can promote robust directed motion, for example, propulsion against (upstream rheotaxis) or perpendicular to the direction of flow. These effects are generally attributed to their complex body shapes and flagellar beat patterns. Using catalytic Janus particles as a model experimental system, we report on a strong directional response that occurs for spherical active particles in a channel flow. The particles align their propulsion axes to be nearly perpendicular to both the direction of flow and the normal vector of a nearby bounding surface. We develop a deterministic theoretical model of spherical microswimmers near a planar wall that captures the experimental observations. We show how the directional response emerges from the interplay of shear flow and near-surface swimming activity. Finally, adding the effect of thermal noise, we obtain probability distributions for the swimmer orientation that semiquantitatively agree with the experimental distributions.


Xuan, Mingjun, Mestre, Rafael, Gao, Changyong, Zhou, Chang, He, Qiang, Sánchez, Samuel, (2018). Noncontinuous super-diffusive dynamics of a light-activated nanobottle motor Angewandte Chemie International Edition 57, (23), 6838-6842

Abstract We report a carbonaceous nanobottle (CNB) motor for near infrared (NIR) light-driven jet propulsion. The bottle structure of the CNB motor is fabricated by soft-template-based polymerization. Upon illumination with NIR light, the photothermal effect of the CNB motor carbon shell causes a rapid increase in the temperature of the water inside the nanobottle and thus the ejection of the heated fluid from the open neck, which propels the CNB motor. The occurrence of an explosion, the on/off motion, and the swing behavior of the CNB motor can be modulated by adjusting the NIR light source. Moreover, we simulated the physical field distribution (temperature, fluid velocity, and pressure) of the CNB motor to demonstrate the mechanism of NIR light-driven jet propulsion. This NIR light-powered CNB motor exhibits fuel-free propulsion and control of the swimming velocity by external light and has great potential for future biomedical applications.


Villa, Katherine, Parmar, Jemish, Vilela, Diana, Sánchez, Samuel, (2018). Metal-oxide-based microjets for the simultaneous removal of organic pollutants and heavy metals ACS Applied Materials and Interfaces 10, (24), 20478-20486

Water contamination from industrial and anthropogenic activities is nowadays a major issue in many countries worldwide. To address this problem, efficient water treatment technologies are required. Recent efforts have focused on the development of self-propelled micromotors that provide enhanced micromixing and mass transfer by the transportation of reactive species, resulting in higher decontamination rates. However, a real application of these micromotors is still limited due to the high cost associated to their fabrication process. Here, we present Fe2O3-decorated SiO2/MnO2 microjets for the simultaneous removal of industrial organic pollutants and heavy metals present in wastewater. These microjets were synthesized by low-cost and scalable methods. They exhibit an average speed of 485 ± 32 μm s–1 (∼28 body length per s) at 7% H2O2, which is the highest reported for MnO2-based tubular micromotors. Furthermore, the photocatalytic and adsorbent properties of the microjets enable the efficient degradation of organic pollutants, such as tetracycline and rhodamine B under visible light irradiation, as well as the removal of heavy metal ions, such as Cd2+ and Pb2+.

Keywords: Micromotors, Photocatalytic, Water purification, Fenton, Magnetic control, Iron oxide, Manganese oxide


Romeo, Agostino, Moya, Ana, Leung, Tammy S., Gabriel, Gemma, Villa, Rosa, Sánchez, Samuel, (2018). Inkjet printed flexible non-enzymatic glucose sensor for tear fluid analysis Applied Materials Today 10, 133-141

Here, we present a flexible and low-cost inkjet printed electrochemical sensor for enzyme-free glucose analysis. Versatility, short fabrication time and low cost make inkjet printing a valuable alternative to traditional sensor manufacturing techniques. We fabricated electro-chemical glucose sensors by inkjet printing electrodes on a flexible polyethylene terephthalate substrate. CuO microparticles were used to modify our electrodes, leading to a sensitive, stable and cost-effective platform for non-enzymatic detection of glucose. Selectivity, reproducibility, and life-time provided by the CuO functionalization demonstrated that these sensors are reliable tools for personalized diagnostics and self-assessment of an individual's health. The detection of glucose at concentrations matching that of tear fluid allows us to envisage applications in ocular diagnostics, where painless and non-invasive monitoring of diabetes can be achieved by analyzing glucose contained in tears.

Keywords: Inkjet printing, Non-enzymatic sensor, Glucose, Copper oxide, Tear analysis


Villa, Katherine, Parmar, Jemish, Vilela, Diana, Sanchez, Samuel, (2018). Core-shell microspheres for the ultrafast degradation of estrogen hormone at neutral pH RSC Advances 8, (11), 5840-5847

In the past few years there has been growing concern about human exposure to endocrine disrupting chemicals. This kind of pollutants can bioaccumulate in aquatic organisms and lead to serious health problems, especially affecting child development. Many efforts have been devoted to achieving the efficient removal of such refractory organics. In this regard, a novel catalyst based on the combination of α-FeOOH and MnO2@MnCO3 catalysts has been developed by up-scalable techniques from cheap precursors and tested in the photo-Fenton-like degradation of an endocrine disruptor. Almost total degradation of 17α-ethynylestradiol hormone was achieved after only 2 min of simulated solar irradiation at neutral pH. The outstanding performance of FeOOH@MnO2@MnCO3 microspheres was mainly attributed to a larger generation of hydroxyl radicals, which are the primary mediators of the total oxidation for this hormone. This work contributes to the development of more cost-effective systems for the rapid and efficient removal of persistent organic pollutants present in sewage plant effluents under direct solar light.


Mestre, Rafael, Patiño, Tania, Barceló, Xavier, Sanchez, Samuel, (2018). 3D Bioprinted muscle-based bio-actuators: Force adaptability due to training Biomimetic and Biohybrid Systems 7th International Conference, Living Machines 2018 (Lecture Notes in Computer Science) , Springer International Publishing (Paris, France) 10928, 316-320

The integration of biological tissue and artificial materials plays a fundamental role in the development of biohybrid soft robotics, a subfield in the field of soft robotics trying to achieve a higher degree of complexity by taking advantage of the exceptional capabilities of biological systems, like self-healing or responsiveness to external stimuli. In this work, we present a proof-of-concept 3D bioprinted bio-actuator made of skeletal muscle tissue and PDMS, which can act as a force measuring platform. The 3D bioprinting technique, which has not been used for the development of bio-actuators, offers unique versatility by allowing a simple, biocompatible and fast fabrication of hybrid multi-component systems. Furthermore, we prove controllability of contractions and functionality of the bio-actuator after applying electric pulses by measuring the exerted forces. We observe an increased force output in time, suggesting improved maturation of the tissue, opening up possibilities for force adaptability or modulation due to prolonged electrical stimuli.


Parmar, J., Villa, K., Vilela, D., Sánchez, S., (2017). Platinum-free cobalt ferrite based micromotors for antibiotic removal Applied Materials Today 9, 605-611

Self-propelled micromotors have previously shown to enhance pollutant removal compared to non-motile nano-micro particles. However, these systems are expensive, difficult to scale-up and require surfactant for efficient work. Efficient and inexpensive micromotors are desirable for their practical applications in water treatment technologies. We describe cobalt-ferrite based micromotors (CFO micromotors) fabricated by a facile and scalable synthesis, that produce hydroxyl radicals via Fenton-like reaction and take advantage of oxygen gas generated during this reaction for self-propulsion. Once the reaction is complete, the CFO micromotors can be easily separated and collected due to their magnetic nature. The CFO micromotors are demonstrated for highly efficient advanced oxidative removal of tetracycline antibiotic from the water. Furthermore, the effects of different concentrations of micromotors and hydrogen peroxide on the antibiotic degradation were studied, as well as the generation of the highly reactive hydroxyl radicals responsible for the oxidation reaction.

Keywords: Degradation, Fenton reaction, Microbots, Nanomotors, Self-propelled Micromotors, Water treatment


Katuri, Jaideep, Ma, Xing, Stanton, Morgan M., Sánchez, Samuel, (2017). Designing micro- and nanoswimmers for specific applications Accounts of Chemical Research 50, (1), 2-11

Conspectus: Self-propelled colloids have emerged as a new class of active matter over the past decade. These are micrometer sized colloidal objects that transduce free energy from their surroundings and convert it to directed motion. The self-propelled colloids are in many ways, the synthetic analogues of biological self-propelled units such as algae or bacteria. Although they are propelled by very different mechanisms, biological swimmers are typically powered by flagellar motion and synthetic swimmers are driven by local chemical reactions, they share a number of common features with respect to swimming behavior. They exhibit run-and-tumble like behavior, are responsive to environmental stimuli, and can even chemically interact with nearby swimmers. An understanding of self-propelled colloids could help us in understanding the complex behaviors that emerge in populations of natural microswimmers. Self-propelled colloids also offer some advantages over natural microswimmers, since the surface properties, propulsion mechanisms, and particle geometry can all be easily modified to meet specific needs. From a more practical perspective, a number of applications, ranging from environmental remediation to targeted drug delivery, have been envisioned for these systems. These applications rely on the basic functionalities of self-propelled colloids: directional motion, sensing of the local environment, and the ability to respond to external signals. Owing to the vastly different nature of each of these applications, it becomes necessary to optimize the design choices in these colloids. There has been a significant effort to develop a range of synthetic self-propelled colloids to meet the specific conditions required for different processes. Tubular self-propelled colloids, for example, are ideal for decontamination processes, owing to their bubble propulsion mechanism, which enhances mixing in systems, but are incompatible with biological systems due to the toxic propulsion fuel and the generation of oxygen bubbles. Spherical swimmers serve as model systems to understand the fundamental aspects of the propulsion mechanism, collective behavior, response to external stimuli, etc. They are also typically the choice of shape at the nanoscale due to their ease of fabrication. More recently biohybrid swimmers have also been developed which attempt to retain the advantages of synthetic colloids while deriving their propulsion from biological swimmers such as sperm and bacteria, offering the means for biocompatible swimming. In this Account, we will summarize our effort and those of other groups, in the design and development of self-propelled colloids of different structural properties and powered by different propulsion mechanisms. We will also briefly address the applications that have been proposed and, to some extent, demonstrated for these swimmer designs.


Stanton, Morgan M., Park, Byung-Wook, Vilela, Diana, Bente, Klaas, Faivre, Damien, Sitti, Metin, Sanchez, Samuel, (2017). Magnetotactic bacteria powered biohybrids target E. coli biofilms ACS Nano 11, (10), 9968-9978

Biofilm colonies are typically resistant to general antibiotic treatment and require targeted methods for their removal. One of these methods include the use of nanoparticles as carriers for antibiotic delivery, where they randomly circulate in fluid until they make contact with the infected areas. However, the required proximity of the particles to the biofilm results in only moderate efficacy. We demonstrate here that the non-pathogenic magnetotactic bacteria, Magnetosopirrillum gryphiswalense (MSR-1), can be integrated with drug-loaded mesoporous silica microtubes (MSMs) to build controllable microswimmers (biohybrids) capable of antibiotic delivery to target an infectious biofilm. Applying external magnetic guidance capability and swimming power of the MSR-1 cells, the biohybrids are directed to and forcefully pushed into matured Escherichia coli (E. coli) biofilms. Release of the antibiotic, ciprofloxacin (CFX), is triggered by the acidic microenvironment of the biofilm ensuring an efficient drug delivery system. The results reveal the capabilities of a non-pathogenic bacteria species to target and dismantle harmful biofilms, indicating biohybrid systems have great potential for anti-biofilm applications.


Stanton, Morgan M., Sánchez, Samuel, (2017). Pushing bacterial biohybrids to in vivo applications Trends in Biotechnology , 35, (10), 910-913

Bacterial biohybrids use the energy of bacteria to manipulate synthetic materials with the goal of solving biomedical problems at the micro- and nanoscale. We explore current in vitro studies of bacterial biohybrids, the first attempts at in vivo biohybrid research, and problems to be addressed for the future.

Keywords: Bacteria, Biohybrid, Microswimmers, Micromotors, Drug delivery


Stanton, M. M., Park, B. W., Miguel-López, A., Ma, X., Sitti, M., Sánchez, S., (2017). Biohybrid microtube swimmers driven by single captured bacteria Small 13, (19), 1603679

Bacteria biohybrids employ the motility and power of swimming bacteria to carry and maneuver microscale particles. They have the potential to perform microdrug and cargo delivery in vivo, but have been limited by poor design, reduced swimming capabilities, and impeded functionality. To address these challenge, motile Escherichia coli are captured inside electropolymerized microtubes, exhibiting the first report of a bacteria microswimmer that does not utilize a spherical particle chassis. Single bacterium becomes partially trapped within the tube and becomes a bioengine to push the microtube though biological media. Microtubes are modified with "smart" material properties for motion control, including a bacteria-attractant polydopamine inner layer, addition of magnetic components for external guidance, and a biochemical kill trigger to cease bacterium swimming on demand. Swimming dynamics of the bacteria biohybrid are quantified by comparing "length of protrusion" of bacteria from the microtubes with respect to changes in angular autocorrelation and swimmer mean squared displacement. The multifunctional microtubular swimmers present a new generation of biocompatible micromotors toward future microbiorobots and minimally invasive medical applications.

Keywords: Biohybrids, E. coli, Micromotors, Microswimmers, Polydopamine


Vilela, D., Stanton, M. M., Parmar, J., Sánchez, S., (2017). Microbots decorated with silver nanoparticles kill bacteria in aqueous media ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces 9, (27), 22093-22100

Water contamination is one of the most persistent problems of public health. Resistance of some pathogens to conventional disinfectants can require the combination of multiple disinfectants or increased disinfectant doses, which may produce harmful byproducts. Here, we describe an efficient method for disinfecting Escherichia coli and removing the bacteria from contaminated water using water self-propelled Janus microbots decorated with silver nanoparticles (AgNPs). The structure of a spherical Janus microbot consists of a magnesium (Mg) microparticle as a template that also functions as propulsion source by producing hydrogen bubbles when in contact with water, an inner iron (Fe) magnetic layer for their remote guidance and collection, and an outer AgNP-coated gold (Au) layer for bacterial adhesion and improving bactericidal properties. The active motion of microbots increases the chances of the contact of AgNPs on the microbot surface with bacteria, which provokes the selective Ag+ release in their cytoplasm, and the microbot self-propulsion increases the diffusion of the released Ag+ ions. In addition, the AgNP-coated Au cap of the microbots has a dual capability of capturing bacteria and then killing them. Thus, we have demonstrated that AgNP-coated Janus microbots are capable of efficiently killing more than 80% of E. coli compared with colloidal AgNPs that killed only less than 35% of E. coli in contaminated water solutions in 15 min. After capture and extermination of bacteria, magnetic properties of the cap allow collection of microbots from water along with the captured dead bacteria, leaving water with no biological contaminants. The presented biocompatible Janus microbots offer an encouraging method for rapid disinfection of water.

Keywords: Bactericidal, Magnetic control, Micromotors, Microswimmers, Self-propulsion, Silver nanoparticles


Vilela, D., Hortelao, A. C., Balderas-Xicohtencatl, R., Hirscher, M., Hahn, K., Ma, X., Sanchez, S., (2017). Facile fabrication of mesoporous silica micro-jets with multi-functionalities Nanoscale 9, 13990

Self-propelled micro/nano-devices have been proved as powerful tools in various applications given their capability of both autonomous motion and on-demand task fulfilment. Tubular micro-jets stand out as an important member in the family of self-propelled micro/nano-devices and are widely explored with respect to their fabrication and functionalization. A few methods are currently available for the fabrication of tubular micro-jets, nevertheless there is still a demand to explore the fabrication of tubular micro-jets made of versatile materials and with the capability of multi-functionalization. Here, we present a facile strategy for the fabrication of mesoporous silica micro-jets (MSMJs) for tubular micromotors which can carry out multiple tasks depending on their functionalities. The synthesis of MSMJs does not require the use of any equipment, making it facile and cost-effective for future practical use. The MSMJs can be modified inside, outside or both with different kinds of metal nanoparticles, which provide these micromotors with a possibility of additional properties, such as the anti-bacterial effect by silver nanoparticles, or biochemical sensing based on surface enhanced Raman scattering (SERS) by gold nanoparticles. Because of the high porosity, high surface area and also the easy surface chemistry process, the MSMJs can be employed for the efficient removal of heavy metals in contaminated water, as well as for the controlled and active drug delivery, as two proof-of-concept examples of environmental and biomedical applications, respectively. Therefore, taking into account the new, simple and cheap method of fabrication, highly porous structure, and multiple functionalities, the mesoporous silica based micro-jets can serve as efficient tools for desired applications.


Ma, Xing, Sánchez, Samuel, (2017). Self-propelling micro-nanorobots: challenges and future perspectives in nanomedicine Nanomedicine 12, (12), 1363-1367

Simmchen, Juliane, Baeza, Alejandro, Miguel-Lopez, Albert, Stanton, Morgan M., Vallet-Regi, Maria, Ruiz-Molina, Daniel, Sánchez, Samuel, (2017). Dynamics of novel photoactive AgCl microstars and their environmental applications ChemNanoMat 3, (1), 65-71

In the field of micromotors many efforts are taken to find a substitute for peroxide as fuel. While most approaches turn towards other toxic high energy chemicals such as hydrazine, we introduce an energy source that is widely used in nature: light. Light is an ideal source of energy and some materials, such as AgCl, have the inherent property to transform light energy for chemical processes, which can be used to achieve propulsion. In the case of silver chloride, one observed process after light exposure is surface modification which leads to the release of ions generating chemo-osmotic gradients. Here we present endeavours to use those processes to propel uniquely shaped micro objects of micro star morphology with a high surface to volume ratio, study their dynamics and present approaches to go towards real environmental applications.

Keywords: Self-propellers, Silver chloride, Environmental applications, Photoactive colloids, Anti bacterial


Ma, X., Sánchez, S., (2017). Bio-catalytic mesoporous Janus nano-motors powered by catalase enzyme Tetrahedron , 73, (33), 4883-4886

Enzyme triggered bio-catalytic reactions convert chemical energy into mechanical force to power micro/nano-machines. Though there have been reports about enzymes powered micro/nano-motors, enzymatic Janus nano-motor smaller than 100 nm has not been reported yet. Here, we prepared an enzyme powered Janus nano-motor by half-capping a thin layer of silicon dioxide (4 nm SiO2) onto a mesoporous silica nanoparticle (MSNP) of 90 nm, enabling asymmetry to the nano-architecture. The nano-motors are chemically powered by the decomposition of H2O2 triggered by the enzyme catalase located at one face of the nanoparticles. The self-propulsion is characterized by dynamic light scattering (DLS) and optical microscopy. The apparent diffusion coefficient was enhanced by 150% compared to their Brownian motion at low H2O2 concentration (i.e. below 3 wt%). Mesoporous nano-motors might serve as active drug delivery nano-systems in future biomedical applications such as intracellular drug delivery.

Keywords: Enzyme catalysis, Janus particles, Mesoporous silica, Nano-motors, Nanomachine, Self-propulsion


Parmar, Jemish, Vilela, Diana, Sanchez, Samuel, (2016). Tubular microjets: Fabrication, factors affecting the motion and mechanism of propulsion The European Physical Journal: Special Topics , 225, (11), 2255-2267

Artificial micro- and nano-swimmers are interesting systems for both fundamental understandings of swimming at low Reynolds numbers and for their promising applications in many fields, such as environmental and biomedical fields. Different architectures of self-propelled systems present various propulsion mechanisms. Among them, tubular microjets are widely used for different applications. Here, we briefly describe the fabrication of microjets by rolling up thin film and electrodeposition techniques and the principles behind these processes. Different parameters affecting the motion of microjets and existing theoretical models about microjet propulsion are discussed.


Ma, Xing, Horteläo, Ana C., Patiño, Tania, Sánchez, Samuel, (2016). Enzyme catalysis to power micro/nanomachines ACS Nano 10, (10), 9111–9122

Enzymes play a crucial role in many biological processes which require harnessing and converting free chemical energy into kinetic forces in order to accomplish tasks. Enzymes are considered to be molecular machines, not only because of their capability of energy conversion in biological systems but also because enzymatic catalysis can result in enhanced diffusion of enzymes at a molecular level. Enlightened by nature’s design of biological machinery, researchers have investigated various types of synthetic micro/nanomachines by using enzymatic reactions to achieve self-propulsion of micro/nanoarchitectures. Yet, the mechanism of motion is still under debate in current literature. Versatile proof-of-concept applications of these enzyme-powered micro/nanodevices have been recently demonstrated. In this review, we focus on discussing enzymes not only as stochastic swimmers but also as nanoengines to power self-propelled synthetic motors. We present an overview on different enzyme-powered micro/nanomachines, the current debate on their motion mechanism, methods to provide motion and speed control, and an outlook of the future potentials of this multidisciplinary field.


Ma, Xing, Wang, Xu, Hahn, Kersten, Sánchez, Samuel, (2016). Motion control of urea powered biocompatible hollow microcapsules ACS Nano 10, (3), 3597-3605

The quest for biocompatible micro-swimmers powered by compatible fuel and with full motion control over their self-propulsion is a long-standing challenge in the field of active matter and microrobotics. Here, we present an active hybrid microcapsule motor based on Janus hollow mesoporous silica micro particles (JHP) powered by the bio-catalytic decomposition of urea at physiological concentrations. The directional self-propelled motion lasts longer than 10 minutes with an average velocity of up to 5 body lengths per second. Additionally, we control the velocity of the micro-motor by chemically inhibiting and reactivating the enzymatic activity of urease. The incorporation of magnetic material within the Janus structure provides remote magnetic control on the movement direction. Furthermore, the mesoporous/hollow structure can load both small molecules and larger particles up to hundreds of nano-meters, making the hybrid micro-motor an active and controllable drug delivery micro-system.


Ma, Xing, Jang, Seungwook, Popescu, Mihail N., Uspal, William E., Miguel-López, Albert, Hahn, Kersten, Kiam, Dong-Pyo, Sánchez, Samuel, (2016). Reversed Janus micro/nanomotors with internal chemical engine ACS Nano 10, (9), 8751-8759

Self-motile Janus colloids are important for enabling a wide variety of microtechnology applications as well as for improving our understanding of the mechanisms of motion of artificial micro- and nanoswimmers. We present here micro/nanomotors which possess a reversed Janus structure of an internal catalytic “chemical engine”. The catalytic material (here platinum (Pt)) is embedded within the interior of the mesoporous silica (mSiO2)-based hollow particles and triggers the decomposition of H2O2 when suspended in an aqueous peroxide (H2O2) solution. The pores/gaps at the noncatalytic (Pt) hemisphere allow the exchange of chemical species in solution between the exterior and the interior of the particle. By varying the diameter of the particles, we observed size-dependent motile behavior in the form of enhanced diffusion for 500 nm particles, and self-phoretic motion, toward the nonmetallic part, for 1.5 and 3 μm ones. The direction of motion was rationalized by a theoretical model based on self-phoresis. For the 3 μm particles, a change in the morphology of the porous part is observed, which is accompanied by a change in the mechanism of propulsion via bubble nucleation and ejection as well as a change in the direction of motion.


Ma, Xing, Hortelao, Ana C., Miguel-López, Albert, Sánchez, Samuel, (2016). Bubble-free propulsion of ultrasmall tubular nanojets powered by biocatalytic reactions Journal of the American Chemical Society 138, (42), 13782–13785

The motion of self-propelled tubular micro- and nanojets has so far been achieved by bubble propulsion, e.g., O2 bubbles formed by catalytic decomposition of H2O2, which renders future biomedical applications inviable. An alternative self-propulsion mechanism for tubular engines on the nanometer scale is still missing. Here, we report the fabrication and characterization of bubble-free propelled tubular nanojets (as small as 220 nm diameter), powered by an enzyme-triggered biocatalytic reaction using urea as fuel. We studied the translational and rotational dynamics of the nanojets as functions of the length and location of the enzymes. Introducing tracer nanoparticles into the system, we demonstrated the presence of an internal flow that extends into the external fluid via the cavity opening, leading to the self-propulsion. One-dimensional nanosize, longitudinal self-propulsion, and biocompatibility make the tubular nanojets promising for future biomedical applications.


Vilela, Diana, Parmar, Jemish, Zeng, Yongfei, Zhao, Yanli, Sánchez, Samuel, (2016). Graphene based microbots for toxic heavy metal removal and recovery from water Nano Letters 16, (4), 2860-2866

Heavy metal contamination in water is a serious risk to the public health and other life forms on earth. Current research in nanotechnology is developing new nanosystems and nanomaterials for the fast and efficient removal of pollutants and heavy metals from water. Here, we report graphene oxide-based microbots (GOx-microbots) as active self-propelled systems for the capture, transfer, and removal of a heavy metal (i.e., lead) and its subsequent recovery for recycling purposes. Microbots’ structure consists of nanosized multilayers of graphene oxide, nickel, and platinum, providing different functionalities. The outer layer of graphene oxide captures lead on the surface, and the inner layer of platinum functions as the engine decomposing hydrogen peroxide fuel for self-propulsion, while the middle layer of nickel enables external magnetic control of the microbots. Mobile GOx-microbots remove lead 10 times more efficiently than nonmotile GOx-microbots, cleaning water from 1000 ppb down to below 50 ppb in 60 min. Furthermore, after chemical detachment of lead from the surface of GOx-microbots, the microbots can be reused. Finally, we demonstrate the magnetic control of the GOx-microbots inside a microfluidic system as a proof-of-concept for automatic microbots-based system to remove and recover heavy metals.


Parmar, J., Vilela, D., Pellicer, E., Esqué-de los Ojos, D., Sort, J., Sánchez, S., (2016). Reusable and long-lasting active microcleaners for heterogeneous water remediation Advanced Functional Materials 26, (23), 4152-4161

Self-powered micromachines are promising tools for future environmental remediation technology. Waste-water treatment and water reuse is an essential part of environmental sustainability. Herein, we present reusable Fe/Pt multi-functional active microcleaners that are capable of degrading organic pollutants (malachite green and 4-nitrophenol) by generated hydroxyl radicals via a Fenton-like reaction. Various different properties of microcleaners, such as the effect of their size, short-term storage, long-term storage, reusability, continuous swimming capability, surface composition, and mechanical properties, are studied. It is found that these microcleaners can continuously swim for more than 24 hours and can be stored more than 5 weeks during multiple cleaning cycles. The produced microcleaners can also be reused, which reduces the cost of the process. During the reuse cycles the outer iron surface of the Fe/Pt microcleaners generates the in-situ, heterogeneous Fenton catalyst and releases a low concentration of iron into the treated water, while the mechanical properties also appear to be improved due to both its surface composition and structural changes. The microcleaners are characterized by scanning electron microscopy (SEM), X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS), nanoindentation, and finite-element modeling (FEM).

Keywords: Catalysts, Heterogeneous catalysis, Microcleaners, Micromotors, Nanorobots, Wastewater treatment


Simmchen, J., Katuri, J., Uspal, W. E., Popescu, M. N., Tasinkevych, M., Sánchez, S., (2016). Topographical pathways guide chemical microswimmers Nature Communications 7, 10598

Achieving control over the directionality of active colloids is essential for their use in practical applications such as cargo carriers in microfluidic devices. So far, guidance of spherical Janus colloids was mainly realized using specially engineered magnetic multilayer coatings combined with external magnetic fields. Here we demonstrate that step-like submicrometre topographical features can be used as reliable docking and guiding platforms for chemically active spherical Janus colloids. For various topographic features (stripes, squares or circular posts), docking of the colloid at the feature edge is robust and reliable. Furthermore, the colloids move along the edges for significantly long times, which systematically increase with fuel concentration. The observed phenomenology is qualitatively captured by a simple continuum model of self-diffusiophoresis near confining boundaries, indicating that the chemical activity and associated hydrodynamic interactions with the nearby topography are the main physical ingredients behind the observed behaviour.


Maggi, Claudio, Simmchen, Juliane, Saglimbeni, Filippo, Katuri, Jaideep, Dipalo, Michele, De Angelis, Francesco, Sánchez, Samuel, Di Leonardo, Roberto, (2016). Self-assembly of micromachining systems powered by Janus micromotors Small 12, (4), 446-451

Janus particles can self-assemble around microfabricated gears in reproducible configurations with a high degree of spatial and orientational order. The final configuration maximizes the torque applied on the rotor leading to a unidirectional and steady rotating motion. The interplay between geometry and dynamical behavior leads to the self-assembly of Janus micromotors starting from randomly distributed particles.

Keywords: Active catalytic particles, Microgears, Micromachines, Janus particles, Self-assembly, Self-propulsion


Katuri, J., Seo, K. D., Kim, D. S., Sánchez, S., (2016). Artificial micro-swimmers in simulated natural environments Lab on a Chip 16, (7), 1101-1105

Microswimmers, such as bacteria, are known to show different behaviours depending on their local environment. They identify spatial chemical gradients to find nutrient rich areas (chemotaxis) and interact with shear flows to accumulate in high shear regions. Recently, artificial microswimmers have been developed which mimic their natural counterparts in many ways. One of the exciting topics in this field is to study these artificial motors in several natural settings like the ones bacteria interact with. In this Focus article, we summarize recent observations of artificial swimmers in chemical gradients, shear flows and other interesting natural environments simulated in the lab using microfluidics and nanotechnology.


Vilela, Diana, Romeo, Agostino, Sánchez, Samuel, (2016). Flexible sensors for biomedical technology Lab on a Chip 16, (3), 402-408

Flexible sensing devices have gained a great deal of attention among the scientific community in recent years. The application of flexible sensors spans over several fields, including medicine, industrial automation, robotics, security, and human-machine interfacing. In particular, non-invasive health-monitoring devices are expected to play a key role in the improvement of patient life and in reducing costs associated with clinical and biomedical diagnostic procedures. Here, we focus on recent advances achieved in flexible devices applied on the human skin for biomedical and healthcare purposes.


Safdar, M., Janis, J., Sánchez, S., (2016). Microfluidic fuel cells for energy generation Lab on a Chip 16, (15), 2754-2758

Sustainable energy generation is of recent interest due to a growing energy demand across the globe and increasing environmental issues caused by conventional non-renewable means of power generation. In the context of microsystems, portable electronics and lab-on-a-chip based (bio)chemical sensors would essentially require fully integrated, reliable means of power generation. Microfluidic-based fuel cells can offer unique advantages compared to conventional fuel cells such as high surface area-to-volume ratio, ease of integration, cost effectiveness and portability. Here, we summarize recent developments which utilize the potential of microfluidic devices for energy generation.


Patino, T., Mestre, R., Sánchez, S., (2016). Miniaturized soft bio-hybrid robotics: a step forward into healthcare applications Lab on a Chip 16, (19), 3626-3630

Soft robotics is an emerging discipline that employs soft flexible materials such as fluids, gels and elastomers in order to enhance the use of robotics in healthcare applications. Compared to their rigid counterparts, soft robotic systems have flexible and rheological properties that are closely related to biological systems, thus allowing the development of adaptive and flexible interactions with complex dynamic environments. With new technologies arising in bioengineering, the integration of living cells into soft robotic systems offers the possibility of accomplishing multiple complex functions such as sensing and actuating upon external stimuli. These emerging bio-hybrid systems are showing promising outcomes and opening up new avenues in the field of soft robotics for applications in healthcare and other fields.


Caballero, D., Katuri, J., Samitier, J., Sánchez, S., (2016). Motion in microfluidic ratchets Lab on a Chip 16, (23), 4477-4481

The ubiquitous random motion of mesoscopic active particles, such as cells, can be “rectified” or directed by embedding the particles in systems containing local and periodic asymmetric cues. Incorporated on lab-on-a-chip devices, these microratchet-like structures can be used to self-propel fluids, transport particles, and direct cell motion in the absence of external power sources. In this Focus article we discuss recent advances in the use of ratchet-like geometries in microfluidics which could open new avenues in biomedicine for applications in diagnosis, cancer biology, and bioengineering.


Romeo, A., Leung, T. S., Sánchez, S., (2016). Smart biosensors for multiplexed and fully integrated point-of-care diagnostics Lab on a Chip 16, (11), 1957-1961

Point-of-care diagnostics (PoC) and personalised medicine are highly valuable for the improvement of world health. Smartphone PoC platforms which precisely diagnose diseases and track their development through the detection of several bioanalytes represent one of the newest and most exciting advancements towards mass-screening applications. Here we focus on recent advances in both multiplexed and smartphone integrated PoC sensors.


Stanton, Morgan M., Simmchen, Juliane, Ma, Xing, Miguel-López, Albert, Sánchez, Samuel, (2016). Biohybrid Janus motors driven by Escherichia coli Advanced Materials Interfaces , 3, (2), 1500505

There has been a significant interest in the development of microswimmers for medical drug and cargo delivery, but the majority of current micromotors rely on toxic fuel sources and materials in their design making them irrelevant for biomedical applications. Bacteria represent an excellent motor alternative, as they are powered using their surrounding biological fluids. For a motile, biohybrid swimmer, Escherichia coli (E. coli) are integrated onto metal capped, polystyrene (PS) Janus particles. Fabrication of the biohybrid is rapid and simple for a microswimmer capable of magnetic guidance and ferrying an anticancer agent. Cell adhesion is regulated as E. coli adheres only to the particle's metal caps allowing the PS surface to be utilized for drug attachment, creating a multifunctional system. E. coli adhesion is investigated on multiple metal caps (Pt, Fe, Ti, or Au) and displays a strong preference to attach to Pt surfaces over other metals. Surface hydrophobicity and surface charge are examined to interpret the cell specific adhesion on the Janus particles. The dual capability of the biohybrid to have guided cell adhesion and localized drug attachment allows the swimmer to have multiple applications for biomedical microswimmers, future bacteria-interface systems, and micro-biorobots.

Keywords: Bacteria adhesion, Biohybrids, Escherichia coli, Janus particles, Microswimmers


Ma, X., Jannasch, A., Albrecht, U. R., Hahn, K., Miguel-López, A., Schäffer, E., Sánchez, S., (2015). Enzyme-powered hollow mesoporous Janus nanomotors Nano Letters 15, (10), 7043-7050

The development of synthetic nanomotors for technological applications in particular for life science and nanomedicine is a key focus of current basic research. However, it has been challenging to make active nanosystems based on biocompatible materials consuming nontoxic fuels for providing self-propulsion. Here, we fabricate self-propelled Janus nanomotors based on hollow mesoporous silica nanoparticles (HMSNPs), which are powered by biocatalytic reactions of three different enzymes: catalase, urease, and glucose oxidase (GOx). The active motion is characterized by a mean-square displacement (MSD) analysis of optical video recordings and confirmed by dynamic light scattering (DLS) measurements. We found that the apparent diffusion coefficient was enhanced by up to 83%. In addition, using optical tweezers, we directly measured a holding force of 64 ± 16 fN, which was necessary to counteract the effective self-propulsion force generated by a single nanomotor. The successful demonstration of biocompatible enzyme-powered active nanomotors using biologically benign fuels has a great potential for future biomedical applications.

Keywords: Enzyme, Hollow mesoporous silica nanoparticles, Hybrid motors, Janus particles, Nanomotors, Optical tweezers


Ma, X., Hahn, K., Sánchez, S., (2015). Catalytic mesoporous janus nanomotors for active cargo delivery Journal of the American Chemical Society 137, (15), 4976-4979

We report on the synergy between catalytic propulsion and mesoporous silica nanoparticles (MSNPs) for the design of Janus nanomotors as active cargo delivery systems with sizes <100 nm (40, 65, and 90 nm). The Janus asymmetry of the nanomotors is given by electron beam (e-beam) deposition of a very thin platinum (2 nm) layer on MSNPs. The chemically powered Janus nanomotors present active diffusion at low H2O2 fuel concentration (i.e., <3 wt %). Their apparent diffusion coefficient is enhanced up to 100% compared to their Brownian motion. Due to their mesoporous architecture and small dimensions, they can load cargo molecules in large quantity and serve as active nanocarriers for directed cargo delivery on a chip.


Sánchez, S., Soler, L., Katuri, J., (2015). Chemically powered micro- and nanomotors Angewandte Chemie - International Edition 54, (4), 1414-1444

Chemically powered micro- and nanomotors are small devices that are self-propelled by catalytic reactions in fluids. Taking inspiration from biomotors, scientists are aiming to find the best architecture for self-propulsion, understand the mechanisms of motion, and develop accurate control over the motion. Remotely guided nanomotors can transport cargo to desired targets, drill into biomaterials, sense their environment, mix or pump fluids, and clean polluted water. This Review summarizes the major advances in the growing field of catalytic nanomotors, which started ten years ago.

Keywords: Catalysis, Micromotors, Nanomotors, Robots, Self-propulsion


Ma, X., Katuri, J., Zeng, Y., Zhao, Y., Sánchez, S., (2015). Surface conductive graphene-wrapped micromotors exhibiting enhanced motion Small 11, (38), 5023–5027

Surface-conductive Janus spherical motors are fabricated by wrapping silica particles with reduced graphene oxide capped with a thin Pt layer. These motors exhibit a 100% enhanced velocity as compared to standard SiO2–Pt motors. Furthermore, the versatility of graphene may open up possibilities for a diverse range of applications from active drug delivery systems to water remediation.

Keywords: Enhanced speed, Graphene wrapping, Janus micromotors, Janus particles, Micromotors, Surface conduction


Choudhury, Udit, Soler, Lluis, Gibbs, John, Sánchez, Samuel, Fischer, Peer, (2015). Surface roughness-induced speed increase for active Janus micromotors Chemical Communications 51, 8660-8663

We demonstrate a simple physical fabrication method to obtain self-propelled active Janus microparticles with rough catalytic platinum surfaces that show a four-fold increase in their propulsion speed compared to conventional Janus particles coated with a smooth Pt layer.


Stanton, M. M., Trichet-Paredes, C., Sánchez, S., (2015). Applications of three-dimensional (3D) printing for microswimmers and bio-hybrid robotics Lab on a Chip 15, (7), 1634-1637

This article will focus on recent reports that have applied three-dimensional (3D) printing for designing millimeter to micrometer architecture for robotic motility. The utilization of 3D printing has rapidly grown in applications for medical prosthetics and scaffolds for organs and tissue, but more recently has been implemented for designing mobile robotics. With an increase in the demand for devices to perform in fragile and confined biological environments, it is crucial to develop new miniaturized, biocompatible 3D systems. Fabrication of materials at different scales with different properties makes 3D printing an ideal system for creating frameworks for small-scale robotics. 3D printing has been applied for the design of externally powered, artificial microswimmers and studying their locomotive capabilities in different fluids. Printed materials have also been incorporated with motile cells for bio-hybrid robots capable of functioning by cell contraction and swimming. These 3D devices offer new methods of robotic motility for biomedical applications requiring miniature structures. Traditional 3D printing methods, where a structure is fabricated in an additive process from a digital design, and non-traditional 3D printing methods, such as lithography and molding, will be discussed.


Stanton, M. M., Samitier, J., Sánchez, S., (2015). Bioprinting of 3D hydrogels Lab on a Chip 15, (15), 3111-3115

Three-dimensional (3D) bioprinting has recently emerged as an extension of 3D material printing, by using biocompatible or cellular components to build structures in an additive, layer-by-layer methodology for encapsulation and culture of cells. These 3D systems allow for cell culture in a suspension for formation of highly organized tissue or controlled spatial orientation of cell environments. The in vitro 3D cellular environments simulate the complexity of an in vivo environment and natural extracellular matrices (ECM). This paper will focus on bioprinting utilizing hydrogels as 3D scaffolds. Hydrogels are advantageous for cell culture as they are highly permeable to cell culture media, nutrients, and waste products generated during metabolic cell processes. They have the ability to be fabricated in customized shapes with various material properties with dimensions at the micron scale. 3D hydrogels are a reliable method for biocompatible 3D printing and have applications in tissue engineering, drug screening, and organ on a chip models.


Seo, K. D., Kim, D. S., Sánchez, S., (2015). Fabrication and applications of complex-shaped microparticles via microfluidics Lab on a Chip 15, (18), 3622-3626

Complex-shaped microparticles (MPs) have attracted extensive interest in a myriad of scientific and engineering fields in recent years for their distinct morphology and capability in combining different functions within a single particle. Microfluidic techniques offer an intriguing method for fabricating MPs with excellent monodispersity and complex morphology in parallel while controlling their number and size precisely and independently. To date, there are two notable microfluidics approaches for the synthesis of complex-shaped MPs, namely droplet based, and flow-lithography based microfluidics approaches. It is undoubted that the application of complex-shaped MPs via microfluidic fabrication will hold great promise in a variety of fields including microfabrication, analytical chemistry and biomedicine.


Parmar, Jemish, Jang, Seungwook, Soler, Lluis, Kim, Dong-Pyo, Sánchez, Samuel, (2015). Nano-photocatalysts in microfluidics, energy conversion and environmental applications Lab on a Chip 15, 2352-2356

Extensive studies have been carried out on photocatalytic materials in recent years as photocatalytic reactions offer a promising solution for solar energy conversion and environmental remediation. Currently available commercial photocatalysts still lack efficiency and thus are economically not viable for replacing traditional sources of energy. This article focuses on recent developments in novel nano-photocatalyst materials to enhance photocatalytic activity. Recent reports on optofluidic systems, new synthesis of photocatalytic composite materials and motile photocatalysts are discussed in this article.


Wang, Lei, Sánchez, Samuel, (2015). Self-assembly via microfluidics Lab on a Chip 15, (23), 4383-4386

The self-assembly of amphiphilic building blocks has attracted extensive interest in myriad fields in recent years, due to their great potential in the nanoscale design of functional hybrid materials. Microfluidic techniques provide an intriguing method to control kinetic aspects of the self-assembly of molecular amphiphiles by the facile adjustment of the hydrodynamics of the fluids. Up to now, there have been several reports about one-step direct self-assembly of different building blocks with versatile and multi-shape products without templates, which demonstrated the advantages of microfluidics. These assemblies with different morphologies have great applications in various areas such as cancer therapy, micromotor fabrication, and controlled drug delivery.


Arayanarakool, Rerngchai, Meyer, Anne K., Helbig, Linda, Sánchez, Samuel, Schmidt, Oliver G., (2015). Tailoring three-dimensional architectures by rolled-up nanotechnology for mimicking microvasculatures Lab on a Chip 15, 2981-2989

Artificial microvasculature, particularly as part of the blood-brain barrier, has a high benefit for pharmacological drug discovery and uptake regulation. We demonstrate the fabrication of tubular structures with patterns of holes, which are capable of mimicking microvasculatures. By using photolithography, the dimensions of the cylindrical scaffolds can be precisely tuned as well as the alignment and size of holes. Overlapping holes can be tailored to create diverse three-dimensional configurations, for example, periodic nanoscaled apertures. The porous tubes, which can be made from diverse materials for differential functionalization, are biocompatible and can be modified to be biodegradable in the culture medium. As a proof of concept, endothelial cells (ECs) as well as astrocytes were cultured on these scaffolds. They form monolayers along the scaffolds, are guided by the array of holes and express tight junctions. Nanoscaled filaments of cells on these scaffolds were visualized by scanning electron microscopy (SEM). This work provides the basic concept mainly for an in vitro model of microvasculature which could also be possibly implanted in vivo due to its biodegradability.


Mendes, Rafael Gregorio, Koch, Britta, Bachmatiuk, Alicja, Ma, Xing, Sánchez, Samuel, Damm, Christine, Schmidt, Oliver G., Gemming, Thomas, Eckert, Jurgen, Rummeli, Mark H., (2015). A size dependent evaluation of the cytotoxicity and uptake of nanographene oxide Journal of Materials Chemistry B 3, (12), 2522-2529

Graphene oxide (GO) has attracted great interest due to its extraordinary potential for biomedical application. Although it is clear that the naturally occurring morphology of biological structures is crucial to their precise interactions and correct functioning, the geometrical aspects of nanoparticles are often ignored in the design of nanoparticles for biological applications. A few in vitro and in vivo studies have evaluated the cytotoxicity and biodistribution of GO, however very little is known about the influence of flake size and cytotoxicity. Herein, we aim at presenting an initial cytotoxicity evaluation of different nano-sized GO flakes for two different cell lines (HeLa (Kyoto) and macrophage (J7742)) when they are exposed to samples containing different sized nanographene oxide (NGO) flakes (mean diameter of 89 and 277 nm). The obtained data suggests that the larger NGO flakes reduce cell viability as compared to smaller flakes. In addition, the viability reduction correlates with the time and the concentration of the NGO nanoparticles to which the cells are exposed. Uptake studies were also conducted and the data suggests that both cell lines internalize the GO nanoparticles during the incubation periods studied.


Paxton, W., Sánchez, S., Nitta, T., (2015). Guest editorial: Special issue micro- and nanomachines IEEE Transactions on Nanobioscience , 14, (3), 258-259

The articles in this special section focus on the technologies and applications supported by micro- and nanomachines. The world of artificial micro- and nanomachines has greatly expanded over the last few years to include a range of disciplines from chemistry, physics, biology, to micro/nanoengineering, robotics, and theoretical physics. The dream of engineering nanomachines involves fabricating devices that mimic the mechanical action of biological motors that operate over multiple length scales: from molecular-scale enzymes and motors such as kinesins to the micro-scale biomachinery responsible for the motility of tiny organisms such as the flagella motors of E. coli. However, the design and fabrication of artificial nano- and micromachines with comparable performance as their biological counterparts is not a straightforward task. It requires a detailed understanding of the basic principles of the operation of biomotors and mechanisms that couple the dissipation of energy to mechanical motion. Moreover, micro engineering and microfabrication knowledge is required in order to design efficient, small and even smart micro- and nanomachines.


Seo, K. D., Kwak, B. K., Sánchez, S., Kim, D. S., (2015). Microfluidic-assisted fabrication of flexible and location traceable organo-motor IEEE Transactions on Nanobioscience , 14, (3), 298-304

In this paper, we fabricate a flexible and location traceable micromotor, called organo-motor, assisted by microfluidic devices and with high throughput. The organo-motors are composed of organic hydrogel material, poly (ethylene glycol) diacrylate (PEGDA), which can provide the flexibility of their structure. For spatial and temporal traceability of the organo-motors under magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), superparamagnetic iron oxide nanoparticles (SPION; Fe3O4) were incorporated into the PEGDA microhydrogels. Furthermore, a thin layer of platinum (Pt) was deposited onto one side of the SPION-PEGDA microhydrogels providing geometrical asymmetry and catalytic propulsion in aqueous fluids containing hydrogen peroxide solution, H2O2. Furthermore, the motion of the organo-motor was controlled by a small external magnet enabled by the presence of SPION in the motor architecture.

Keywords: Flexible, Hydrogel, Magnetic resonance imaging, Microfluidics, Micromotor, Microparticle, Organo-motor, Poly (ethylene glycol) diacrylate, Self-propulsion, Superparamagnetic iron oxide nanoparticles


Khalil, I. S. M., Magdanz, V., Sánchez, S., Schmidt, O. G., Misra, S., (2015). Precise localization and control of catalytic janus micromotors using weak magnetic fields International Journal of Advanced Robotic Systems , 12, (2), 1-7

We experimentally demonstrate the precise localization of spherical Pt-Silica Janus micromotors (diameter 5 μm) under the influence of controlled magnetic fields. First, we control the motion of the Janus micromotors in two-dimensional (2D) space. The control system achieves precise localization within an average region-of-convergence of 7 μm. Second, we show that these micromotors provide sufficient propulsion force, allowing them to overcome drag and gravitational forces and move both downwards and upwards. This propulsion is studied by moving the micromotors in three-dimensional (3D) space. The micromotors move downwards and upwards at average speeds of 19.1 μm/s and 9.8 μm/s, respectively. Moreover, our closed-loop control system achieves localization in 3D space within an average region-of-convergence of 6.3 μm in diameter. The precise motion control and localization of the Janus micromotors in 2D and 3D spaces provides broad possibilities for nanotechnology applications.

Keywords: 3D space, Localization, Magnetic control, Micromotors, Self-propulsion



Equipment

Microscopy

  • Leica THUNDER Imager Live Cell & 3D Cell Culture with Computational Clearing to obtain high-speed and high-quality imaging of thick 3D dimensional specimens (Leica Microsystems)
  • Leica DMi8. Inverted Fluorescent microscope with cell incubator, galvo stage for 3D tracking (Leica Microsystems)
  • Leica DMI3000B. Inverted Fluorescent microscope (Leica Microsystems)
  • Leica DMi1. Inverted microscope for Cell Cultures (Leica Microsystems)
  • Leica DM2500MH. Upright microscope (Leica Microsystems)

Characterization

  • Leica EM ACE600. High vacuum sputter & carbon thread coater (Leica Microsystems)
  • Rheometer MCR 702. Dynamic mechanical Analyzer (Anton Paar)
  • Dynamic Light Scattering & Z-Potential (Wyatt)
  • UV-Visible Spectrometer (Analytik Jena)

3D Printing

  • Form 2 3D printer (Formlabs)
  • Inkredible+ 3D Bioprinter (Cellink)

Surface treatment

  • Oxygen Plasma cleaner (Deiner Electronics)
  • Spin coater (Laurell)
  • Langmuir Blodgett (KSV NIMA)
  • UV Irradiation System (Vilber Lourmat)

Biospace

  • Biological Safety Cabinet Bio II Advance Plus (Telstar)
  • Incubator Galaxy170 S (Eppendorf)
  • Orbital Shaker-Incubator ES-20 (Biosan)
  • Water bath VWB2 (VWR)

Chromatography

  • Fast Protein Liquid Chromatography (Bio-Rad)

Sensing & electronics

  • Autolab Galvostat/Potentiostat (Metrohm)
  • Wave form source; Voltage amplifier (Tabor Electronics)
  • Oscilloscope (Rigol)
  • Portable Potentiostat-Galvanostat and Multiplexer (PalmSens)
  • DC power supply (Hameg)

Microfluidics

  • MFCS-EZ Microfluidic flow control system (Fluigent)
  • AL4000 Aladdin Double Syringe Pump (WPI)

Recording cameras

  • Video camera (1000+ fps) (Hamamatsu)
  • High speed camera (10000+ fps) (Vision Research)
  • CCD video camera (100fps) (Thorlabs)

Others

  • Centrifuge (Eppendorf)
  • Test tube heater; Eppendorf tube Shaker (Hach)
  • Sonicator (VWR)
  • Sonicator (Branson)
  • Vortex (VWR)
  • TOC Analyser (Analytik Jena)
  • Homogenizer (BennetSc)
  • Non-Magnetic Stirrer (Daihan)
  • Thermolyne Furnace (Thermo Scientific)
  • Hydrothermal Reactor (Berghof)
  • DUO 3 Dual Stage Rotary Vane Vacuum Pump (Pfeiffer Vacuum)

 

Collaborations

  • Prof. D.P. Kim
    National Center of Applied Microfluidic Chemistry, Department of Chemical Engineering, POSTECH (Pohang University of Science and Technology), Korea
  • Prof. S. Dietrich, Dr. M. Popescu, M. Tasinkevych, Dr. W. Uspal
    Theory of Soft Condensed Matter, MPI for Intelligent Systems, Stuttgart, Germany
  • Prof. M. Sitti
    Physical Intelligence department, MPI for Intelligent Systems
  • Prof. R. Di Leonardo
    Universtità La Sapienza, Rome, Italy
  • Prof. J. Sort, Dr. Eva Pellicer
    Physics Department, Universitat Autònoma de Bellaterra (UAB), Spain
  • Dr. D. Esqué
    The School of Materials, The University of Manchester, UK
  • Dr. J. Llop
    CIC BiomaGUNE, San Sebastián, Spain
  • Prof. F. Ricci
    Dipartimento di Scienze e Tecnologie Chimiche Università di Roma Tor Vergata, Rome, Italy
  • Dr. Ll. Soler
    Institute of Energy Technologies (INTE), UPC (ETSEIB), Barcelona
  • Prof. E. Shäffer
    Center for Plant Molecular Biology (ZMBP), University of Tübingen, Germany
  • Dr. L. Albertazzi
    Nanoscopy group, IBEC
  • Prof. J. Samitier
    NanoBioengineering Group, IBEC
  • Dr. D. Caballero
    University of Minho, Portugal
  • Prof. R. Voituriez
    CNRS/Université Pierre et Marie Curie, Paris, France
  • Dr. G. Gabriel and Prof. R. Villa
    Instituto de Microelectrónica de Barcelona, IMB-CNM (CSIC)
  • Dr. R. Artuch
    Laboratorio de enfermedades metabólicas hereditarias, Hospital Sant Joan de Déu, Barcelona.

 

News/Jobs

We are happy to receive CVs and enquiries from talented individuals. Prospective students and staff are encouraged to contact us to discuss possibilities. Please feel free to suggest new projects, areas of research or new ideas.

Current job openings in the group are listed on the jobs page.


Un nuevo modelo muscular en 3D permitirá estudiar el envejecimiento y evaluar fármacos y cosméticos

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Los Nanorrobots de Samuel Sánchez contra el cáncer acelerarán con apoyo de la Fundación La Caixa

Samuel Sánchez y su equipo en el Instituto de Bioingeniería de Catalunya (IBEC), ganan la convocatoria competitiva CaixaResearch de Investigación en Salud para desarrollar nanorrobots contra el cáncer de vejiga. Sánchez, pionero en el campo de los nanorrobots autopropulsados, se propone avanzar de este modo hacia soluciones contra una de las formas de cáncer más comunes, recurrentes y caras de tratar.

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Los héroes de la pandemia y la experiencia en IBEC, en el homenaje a las víctimas del COVID19

La brillante estudiante de medicina, Laia Marcos, ha sido una de las protagonistas del homenaje retransmitido por TVE a las víctimas de la COVID19 que ha tenido lugar hoy en el Palacio Real. Marcos vivió un paso decisivo en su vida, durante su estancia en el laboratorio del pionero Samuel Sánchez en el IBEC, de la mano de la también científica y experta María Guix.

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Llega una nueva generación de robots vivos

Investigadores del Instituto de Bioingeniería de Cataluña (IBEC), liderados por el Dr. Samuel Sánchez, logran un gran avance en el campo de los robots biológicos mediante el desarrollo de nuevos biobots, basados ​​en células musculares, capaces de nadar a velocidades sin precedentes y reaccionar a estímulos eléctricos gracias a su auto-entrenamiento con un esqueleto inteligente impreso en 3D.

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Observado in vivo el movimiento colectivo de nanorrobots

Un equipo de investigadores liderados por Samuel Sánchez del Instituto de Bioingeniería de Catalunya (IBEC) ha monitorizado, por primera vez, el comportamiento de un enjambre de nanorrobots en el interior de ratones vivos. El estudio, publicado en la prestigiosa revista Science Robotics, revela un movimiento coordinado, similar al de los bancos de peces, que podría resultar en el futuro muy prometedor en el campo de la medicina de precisión.

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El control de la velocidad de los motores enzimáticos acerca el uso de nanorobots a su empleo en la biomedicina

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Una enzima que se usa en el organismo para disgregar las grasas de los alimentos de manera que se puedan absorber.

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LipoBots: nanomotores más robustos para aplicaciones biomédicas desarrollados con tecnología de encapsulación

Investigadores del Instituto de Bioingeniería de Cataluña (IBEC) y del Instituto Catalán de Nanociencia y Nanotecnología (ICN2) desarrollan un nuevo tipo de nanomotores enzimáticos encapsulados.

Los denominados LipoBots, que podrían utilizarse en aplicaciones médicas. Los LipoBots son capaces de autopropulsarse y de conservar su funcionalidad enzimática en condiciones parecidas a las del estómago humano.

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María Demestre, experta en conexiones neuromusculares y sus enfermedades, se une al IBEC desde Alemania

María Demestre, científica sénior y experta en la definición de alteraciones moleculares y factores neurofisiológicos en las neuronas, del músculo esquelético y las conexiones neuromusculares que conducen a enfermedades se une al IBEC, dentro del grupo Smart Nano-Bio-Devices.

En un artículo reciente, dirigido por la Universidad de Ulm en Alemania, de autoría compartida y codirigido por Demestre, varios investigadores describen el efecto de la proteína SHANK3 en los tejidos musculares de pacientes con trastorno de autismo.

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Nuevos nanomotores biodegradables para aplicaciones biomédicas

Un artículo publicado en Nano Letters describe el diseño y la funcionalidad de un nanomotor biocompatible y biodegradable. Esta estructura híbrida dotada de un exterior orgánico se autopropulsa utilizando una nanopartícula inorgánica que los investigadores han sido capaces de sintetizar dentro del nanomotor.

El estudio ha sido dirigido por Jan van Hest y Laoi Abdelmohsen del Institute of Complex Molecular Systems at TU/e en colaboración con Samuel Sánchez del Instituto de Bioingeniería de Cataluña (IBEC) en Barcelona, e investigadores residentes en China y el Reino Unido.

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Sistemas artificiales que imitan la forma en que las células se mueven y se comunican

Una nueva revisión publicada en la revista científica Small resume la investigación más importante de los últimos años sobre biomimética basada en compartimentos celulares blandos sintetizados artificialmente (synthetic soft-architectures) con el fin de inspirar futuros adelantos en este campo.

Samuel Sánchez, Group Leader en el Instituto de Bioingeniería de Cataluña (IBEC) ha participado en la redacción de este artículo de la mano de expertos de fama mundial en el ámbito de la bioingeniería y la síntesis celular.

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El referente en nanotecnología Samuel Sánchez ha sido elegido nuevo miembro de la Academia Joven de España

Un comité internacional selecciona a Samuel Sánchez, referente europeo en nanomotores, como uno de los nuevos 13 investigadores, entre 185 candidatos, que formarán parte de la Academia Joven de España.

El pasado jueves 28 de mayo, la Junta General de la Academia Joven de España eligió 13 nuevos académicos de número. En el proceso de selección participó un comité internacional independiente formado por investigadores de gran prestigio que abarcaban distintas áreas del conocimiento.

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Los Trabajos de Investigación sobre bioingeniería desarrollados en el IBEC triunfan

El pasado mes de marzo Álex Pachón, un estudiante que realizó su Trabajo de Investigacón escolar en el IBEC ganó el Premio CRACKS que otorga cada año la Universidad de Girona (UdG) gracias a su Trabajo de Investigación sobre nanobiotecnología aplicada a la medicina oncológica. Filotea Crasovan ha ganado el concurso Foro de Gracia.

El trabajo de Alex, titulado ‘El secreto de la medicina oncológica escondido en el nanomundo’, es uno de los 25 trabajos de investigación que tutorizaron el año pasado los investigadores del IBEC.

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Samuel Sánchez consigue una subvención “ERC Consolidator” para estudiar el comportamiento colectivo de nanorobots autopropulsados

Samuel Sánchez, profesor de investigación ICREA e investigador principal del grupo Nanobiodispositivos inteligentes del IBEC, ha sido galardonado con la prestigiosa “Consolidator Grant” del Consejo Europeo de Investigación (ERC). Con su proyecto i-NANOSWARMS, Sánchez y su equipo estudiarán el comportamiento colectivo de nanorobots capaces de autopropulsarse, y estudiar así su posible aplicación en la administración de fármacos y diagnóstico de imagen.

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Tres investigadores del IBEC premiados con becas de “la Caixa” por sus proyectos de investigación pionera y de gran impacto social

José Antonio del Río, Pau Gorostiza y Samuel Sánchez, todos ellos investigadores principales en el IBEC, han sido premiados en la convocatoria de Proyectos de investigación en biomedicina y salud y en la de CaixaImpulse, que se celebró el lunes pasado en las instalaciones de “la Caixa”.

José Antonio del Río, investigador principal del Grupo Neurobiotecnología Molecular y Celular, fue uno de los premiados en la segunda edición de la convocatoria de Proyectos de investigación en biomedicina y salud. El proyecto de Del Río se focaliza en diseccionar los mecanismos moleculares implicados en la aparición y propagación de la proteína tau en las células del cerebro. Esta proteína está asociada a diversos procesos neurodegenerativos y presente en numerosas enfermedades como el Alzheimer, y en los últimos años se ha mostrado como diana terapéutica alternativa para tratar discapacidades cognitivas en algunas enfermedades.

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Descubiertos los factores determinantes para la propulsión de microrrobots

Un estudio liderado por investigadores del Instituto de Bioingeniería de Catalunya (IBEC) abre la puerta a la movilidad de nuevos objetos microscópicos utilizando toda una librería de enzimas. Según los expertos, estos microrrobots se podrán utilizar en un futuro próximo con fines medioambientales y biomédicos.

Ingerir una pastilla para curar una grave enfermedad, o añadir una pizca de un polvo sintético para potabilizar agua, parecían conceptos de ciencia ficción hasta hace tan solo unas generaciones. Sin embargo, la aparición de nuevas disciplinas como la bioingeniería, está elevando el nivel de sofisticación y especialización de nuevos materiales hasta límites insospechados.

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Presentación de los Nano Robots del IBEC en el Consejo de Investigación Europeo

Samuel Sánchez, investigador principal en el Instituto de Bioingeniería de Catalunya (IBEC), presentó el pasado 3 de mayo en Bruselas la nueva generación de NanoBots y BioBots desarrollados en su grupo de investigación.

La presentación se hizo durante los Seminarios del Consejo Europeo de Investigación (ERC). El público asistente a la charla estaba compuesto por personal científico de la ERC, además de una audiencia general de la Comisión Europea.
Bajo el título “De Nanobots hacia BioBots 3D como futuras herramientas en robótica y medicina” el profesor Samuel Sánchez presentó en su seminario, los aspectos fundamentales de las nanopartículas propulsadas por catálisis, -también llamadas nanobots- para sus aplicaciones en la remediación ambiental y también en el futuro de la nanomedicina inteligente.

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El IBEC participa en cuatro de los cinco 2018 BIST Ignite Grants otorgados a proyectos de investigación multidisciplinarios

Cuatro proyectos coordinados por 2 investigadores principales y 2 investigadores del IBEC han conseguido financiación a través del programa BIST Ignite Grants

El BIST Ignite Programme es una herramienta que sirve para fomentar la investigación multidisciplinaria entre los miembros del BIST. El objetivo del programa es promover nuevas colaboraciones entre los distintos miembros de la comunidad BIST, facilitando el intercambio de conocimiento entre los distintos campos de la ciencia, explorando nuevos enfoques. Los proyectos que pueden optar a las becas han de explorar nuevas preguntas y retos tecnológicos a través de nuevos enfoques con una visión multidisciplinaria. Los proyectos seleccionados recibirán 20.000 € cada uno y los investigadores tenrdrán 8 meses para desarrollar sus proyectos.

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Nanomotores propulsados con urea, un tratamiento prometedor para el cáncer de vejiga


El grupo Smart Nano-Bio Devices del IBEC ha publicado un artículo que describe cómo los nanomotores atacan los esferoides 3D del cáncer de vejiga in vitro.

Los nanomotores transportan el anti-FGFR3 en su superficie exterior, un anticuerpo que no solo permite identificar las células cancerígenas de forma específica, sino que también inhibe la vía de señalización del factor de crecimiento del fibroblasto, suprimiendo el crecimiento tumoral. Los nanorobots se activan debido a la reacción de la ureasa que lleva en su superficie cuando entra en contacto con la urea que se encuentra presente en la vejiga en elevadas concentraciones, convirtiéndolos en una vía prometedora para atacar este tipo de cáncer.

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Bioimpressió de robots en 3D

El grup Smart nano-bio-devices de l’IBEC —els experts en micro i nanorobots de l’Institut— han utilitzat la bioimpressió 3D per produir «biorobots» fabricats amb elements biològics, com ara el teixit muscular.

Aquests dispositius robòtics tous d’inspiració biològica poden oferir moltes més capacitats en termes de moviment i rendiment —com poden ser la biosensibilitat en temps real, l’autoorganització, l’adaptabilitat o l’autorregeneració— que els sistemes actuals, que utilitzen únicament materials artificials.

“La robòtica amb dispositius tous d’inspiració biològica és una nova disciplina fascinant que pot ajudar-nos a superar les limitacions dels sistemes robòtics convencionals, com ara la flexibilitat, la capacitat de reacció i l’adaptabilitat”, diu Samuel Sánchez, responsable del grup a l’IBEC i professor d’investigació ICREA.

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Investigadores del IBEC crean biorrobots con tejido muscular vivo generado a partir de la impresión en 3D

El grupo de Nanodispositivos inteligentes, expertos en micro y nanorrobots en el IBEC, ha conseguido crear robots híbridos en los que se ha combinado material sintético con tejido muscular vivo generado a partir de la bioimpresión 3D.

Estos dispositivos robóticos blandos, creados con tejido biológico y de tamaño milimétrico, debido a su naturaleza ofrecen muchas ventajas –en términos de movimiento y rendimiento– respecto a los sistemas actuales que utilizan únicamente materiales artificiales.

“La robótica con dispositivos blandos de inspiración biológica es una nueva disciplina que puede ayudarnos a superar las limitaciones de los sistemas

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Samuel bate su propio record con el motor más pequeño del mundo

Samuel Sánchez ha batido su propio récord Guinness creando el motor más pequeño hasta la fecha.

La máxima autoridad en récords ha reconocido su micromotor de 220 nm o 0.00022 milímetros de tamaño, diseñado en colaboración con Xing Ma, como el motor más pequeño del mundo. Con este hito Samuel ha batido su propio récord Guinness anterior, conseguido en colaboración con investigadores del IFW Dresden al diseñar un micromotor de 600 nm.

El nuevo y diminuto motor tubular es propulsado por una reacción biocatalítica, desencadenada por enzimas que utilizan urea como combustible. La reacción crea un flujo interno que se extiende hacia el fluido circundante a través de una de las cavidades, provocando un flujo de fluido que resulta en el empuje que propulsa el nanotubo.

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Samuel Sánchez recibe el Premi Nacional de Recerca al Talent Jove

Samuel Sánchez, investigador principal en el Instituto de Bioingeniería de Catalunya y profesor de investigación ICREA, fue uno de los cinco galardonados en la ceremonia de premiados de la Fundació Catalana per a la Recerca i la Innovació (FCRI) que se celebró ayer en el Teatre Nacional de Catalunya.

Samuel recibió el Premio Nacional de Investigación al Talento jóven de manos del Presidente de la Generalitat de Catalunya, Carles Puigdemont; del Consejero de Empresa y Conocimiento, Jordi Baiget, y del presidente de la FCRI, Antoni Esteve.

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Samuel Sánchez gana el Premi Nacional de Recerca al Talent Jove 2016

Samuel Sánchez, profesor investigador ICREA en el Instituto de Bioingeniería de Catalunya (IBEC), ha sido anunciado ayer como ganador del Premi Nacional de Recerca al Talent Jove 2016 que otorga la Generalitat de Catalunya y la Fundació Catalana per a la Recerca i la Innovació (FCRi).

Este premio reconoce a los jóvenes investigadores que han destacado en su trayectoria profesional por la calidad y excelencia de su trabajo, y cuenta con una dotación económica de 10.000 €.

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La charla sobre nanorobots de Samuel Sánchez entusiasma al público

samcharla Ayer por la tarde, un centenar de asistentes disfrutaron de un seminario público especial que concedió el investigador principal y profesor investigador ICREA Samuel Sánchez.

La charla del investigador principal del grupo Smart nano-bio-devices, Nanorobots de la ciència-ficció a la realitat, que tuvo lugar en la sala Dolors Aleu del PCB, forma parte de los eventos de la Setmana de la Ciència programados este año.

 

Todos aprendieron sobre la evolución de los nanorobots diseñados por Samuel, en los que ha estado trabajando durante los últimos años: su forma, velocidad y manejabilidad, que mejoran constantemente. Samuel también les habló de la búsqueda de mejores métodos de propulsión, y empezó disipando algunos mitos de la ciencia ficción sobre qué tipo de elementos deben encontrar estas nano-máquinas durante su viaje a través del cuerpo humano.

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Samuel Sánchez gana el premio Fundación Princesa de Girona de investigación científica 2015

samuelsanchezEl investigador principal del IBEC Samuel Sánchez es el ganador de este año del premio Fundación Princesa de Girona Investigación Científica por sus avances en el campo de la nanotecnología.

El trabajo de Samuel fue reconocido por su diseño pionero de nanorobots autopropulsados que puede mejorar la precisión de la liberación de fármacos, así como su potencial para aplicaciones medioambientales.

Este año es la sexta edición de los premios nacionales FPdGi Awards, que los otorga la Fundación Princesa de Girona y que reconoce la innovación y las carreras ejemplares de los jóvenes de entre 16 y 35 años.

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