Team:HKU-HKBU/Motor Overview


Micro-Motor - Overview

Generating mechanical power to drive microdevices has great implications in future energy utilization as well as medical science. Fortunately, nature has provided us with numerous brilliant examples of nano-scale molecular machines. Some functional nanodevices derived from living organisms, such as motor proteins, can efficiently convert chemical energy into mechanical work.

Using microorganisms to propel micromotors has a number of unique advantages over conventional energy utilization process. This includes efficient conversion of chemical energy into mechanical work and the potential of procedural control. The development of an appropriate interface between microorganisms and synthetic devices should enable us to realize useful hybrid micro-machines.

In our bactomotor project, the micromotor is one of the most important parts. It provides a surface for the microorganisms to attach, so as to concentrate propelling forces generated by the microorganisms. In order to achieve this design, the well-studied biotin-strepatavidin interaction was applied to bind the bacteria to the motor.

The micro-motor should have the following characteristics:

  1. It should be symmetrical and small enough due to the size of microorganisms.
  2. The motor binding the E. coli or Salmonella need an asymmetrical surface modification, with only one side of the surface coated by biotin, so that the total effect to the motor by the microorganisms will be a unidirection moment.

Besides, there are also several requirements for the material of the motor. For example, it needs to be rigid and easy for chemical modifications to coat biotin.

After trying many possible designs, we report two versions of motors. Ones is using Immobilon-P transfer membrane by mechanical cutting to small size, and the other one was photolithography photoetching method to make a silicon based motor.