Biocompatible nanomotors powered by ultrasound: magnetic steering and interactions with live cells

Image Caption: 
Optical microscope image of an acousticaly powered nanorod motor being steered in vitro towards a HeLa cancer cell
Credits/Names: 

Penn State MRSEC DMR-0820404: S. Ahmed, W. Wang, L. O. Mair, L. A. Castro, M. Hoyos, and T. E. Mallouk (Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 53, 3201-3204 (2014) DOI: 10.1002/ange.201309629)

Following the discovery (ACS Nano 2012, 6, 6122) of bio-compatible, acoustically powered nanorod motors, MRSEC researchers have collaborated with scientists at ESPCI (Paris Tech) and NIST to study the interactions of the motors with live cells. Metallic rods that incorporate a thin nickel stripe can be deliiberately steered towards cells in vitro by using the weak external field of a Nd-Fe-B permanent magnet. Preliminary experiments involving live HeLa cells incubated with gold nanorods show them being taken up by the cells. Interestingly, the nanorods can still be driven by ultrasound while they are inside the cell. This discovery opens the exciting new and unexplored possibility of intracellular drug delivery as well as subcellular and organelle surgery using acoustically powered motors.

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Year of Research Highlight: 
2013
IRG: 
IRG 2 - Powered Motion on the Nanoscale