A new, simple and inexpensive method that uses ultraviolet light to control particle motion and assembly within liquids could improve drug delivery, chemical sensors, and fluid pumps. The method encourages particles–from plastic microbeads, to bacterial spores, to pollutants–to gather and organize at a specific location within a liquid and, if desired, to move to new locations. A paper describing the new method appears in the journal Angewandte Chemie.
“Many applications related to sensors, drug delivery, and nanotechnology require the precise control of the flow of fluids,” said Ayusman Sen, distinguished professor of chemistry at The Pennsylvania State University (Penn State; University Park, PA) and senior author of the paper. “Researchers have developed a number of strategies to do so, including nanomotors and fluid pumps, but prior to this study we did not have an easy way to gather particles at a particular location so that they can perform a useful function and then move them to a new location so they can perform the function again.