Functionalized Ultrasound-Propelled Magnetically Guided Nanomotors: Toward Practical Biomedical Applications

Magnetically guided ultrasound-powered nanowire motors, functionalized with bioreceptors and a drug-loaded polymeric segment, are described for “capture and transport” and drug-delivery processes. These high-performance fuel-free motors display advanced capabilities and functionalities, including magnetic guidance, coordinated aligned movement, cargo towing, capture and isolation of biological targets, drug delivery, and operation in real-life biological and environmental media. The template-prepared three-segment Au–Ni–Au nanowire motors are propelled acoustically by mechanical waves produced by a piezoelectric transducer. An embedded nickel segment facilitates a magnetically guided motion as well as transport of large “cargo” along predetermined trajectories. Substantial improvement in the speed and power is realized by the controlled concavity formation at the end of the motor nanowire using a sphere lithography protocol. Functionalization of the Au segments with lectin and antiprotein A antibody bioreceptors allows capture and transport of <i>E. coli</i> and <i>S. aureus</i> bacteria, respectively. Potential therapeutic applications are illustrated in connection to the addition of a pH-sensitive drug-loaded polymeric (PPy-PSS) segment. The attractive capabilities of these fuel-free acoustically driven functionalized Au–Ni–Au nanowires, along with the simple preparation procedure and minimal adverse effects of ultrasonic waves, make them highly attractive for diverse <i>in vivo</i> biomedical applications.