Self-assembled nematic colloidal motors powered by light Public Deposited

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  • Biological motors are marvels of nature that inspire creation of their synthetic counterparts with comparable nanoscale dimensions, high efficiency and diverse functions. Molecular motors have been synthesized, but obtaining nanomotors through self-assembly remains challenging. Here we describe a self-assembled colloidal motor with a repetitive light-driven rotation of transparent micro-particles immersed in a liquid crystal and powered by a continuous exposure to unstructured ~1 nW light. A monolayer of azobenzene molecules defines how the liquid crystal’s optical axis mechanically couples to the particle’s surface, as well as how they jointly rotate as the light’s polarization changes. The rotating particle twists the liquid crystal, which changes polarization of traversing light. The resulting feedback mechanism yields a continuous opto-mechanical cycle and drives the unidirectional particle spinning, with handedness and frequency robustly controlled by polarization and intensity of light. Our findings may lead to opto-mechanical devices and colloidal machines compatible with liquid crystal display technology.

Date Issued
  • 2018-01-01
Academic Affiliation
Journal Title
Journal Issue/Number
  • 9
File Extent
  • 5040
Last Modified
  • 2020-01-09
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Rights Statement
  • 10.1038/s41467-018-07518-x


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