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Bulk Synthesis of Metal–Organic Hybrid Dimers and Their Propulsion under Electric Fields

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posted on 2014-03-26, 00:00 authored by Sijia Wang, Fuduo Ma, Hui Zhao, Ning Wu
Metal–organic hybrid particles have great potential in applications such as colloidal assembly, autonomous microrobots, targeted drug delivery, and colloidal emulsifiers. Existing fabrication methods, however, typically suffer from low throughput, high operation cost, and imprecise property control. Here, we report a facile and bulk synthesis platform that makes a wide range of metal–organic colloidal dimers. Both geometric and interfacial anisotropy on the particles can be tuned independently and conveniently, which represents a key advantage of this method. We further investigate the self-propulsion of platinum-polystyrene dimers under perpendicularly applied electric fields. In 1 × 10–4 M KCl solution, the dimers exhibit both linear and circular motion with the polystyrene lobes facing toward the moving direction, due to the induced-charge electroosmotic flow surrounding the metal-coated lobes. Surprisingly, in deionized water, the same dimers move in an opposite direction, i.e., the metallic lobes face the forward direction. This is because of the impact of another type of electrokinetic flow: the electrohydrodynamic flow arising from the induced charges on the conducting substrate. The competition between the electrohydrodynamic flow along the substrate and the induced-charge electroosmotic flow along the metallic lobe dictates the propulsion direction of hybrid dimers under electric fields. Our synthetic approach will provide potential opportunities to study the combined impacts of the geometric and interfacial anisotropy on the propulsion, assembly, and other applications of anisotropic particles.