Staff member


Katherine Villa Gómez

Visiting Researcher
Smart Nano-Bio-Devices
kvilla@ibecbarcelona.eu
+34 934 020291
Staff member publications

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.


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


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.


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