Hybrid Biodegradable Nanomotors through Compartmentalized Synthesis

Imke A.B. Pijpers, Shoupeng Cao, Antoni Llopis-Lorente, Jianzhi Zhu, Shidong Song, Rick R.M. Joosten, Fenghua Meng, Heiner Friedrich, David S. Williams, Samuel Sánchez, Jan C.M. van Hest (Corresponding author), Loai K.E.A. Abdelmohsen (Corresponding author)

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

59 Citations (Scopus)


Designer particles that are embued with nanomachinery for autonomous motion have great potential for biomedical applications; however, their development is highly demanding with respect to biodegradability/compatibility. Previously, biodegradable propulsive machinery based on enzymes has been presented. However, enzymes are highly susceptible to proteolysis and deactivation in biological milieu. Biodegradable hybrid nanomotors powered by catalytic inorganic nanoparticles provide a proteolytically stable alternative to those based upon enzymes. Herein we describe the assembly of hybrid biodegradable nanomotors capable of transducing chemical energy into motion. Such nanomotors are constructed through a process of compartmentalized synthesis of inorganic MnO2 nanoparticles (MnPs) within the cavity of organic stomatocytes. We show that the nanomotors remain active in cellular environments and do not compromise cell viability. Effective tumor penetration of hybrid nanomotors is also demonstrated in proof-of-principle experiments. Overall, this work represents a new prospect for engineering of nanomotors that can retain their functionality within biological contexts.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4472-4480
Number of pages9
JournalNano Letters
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 10 Jun 2020


The authors acknowledge the support from the Dutch Ministry of Education, Culture and Science (Gravitation Program 024.001.035) and NWO-NSFC Advanced Materials (Project 792.001.015). The authors acknowledge the support by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (51561135010). We thank the Spanish MINECO (BOTSinFluids Project), the Foundation BBVA (MEDIROBOTS Project), and the CERCA Program of the Generalitat de Catalunya. We thank the Ser Cymru II Programme for support of D.S.W.; this project received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Programme under Marie Skłodowska-Curie Grant Agreement 663830.

FundersFunder number
Fundación BBVA
Horizon 2020 Framework Programme663830, 694120
National Natural Science Foundation of China51561135010
Generalitat de Catalunya
Ministerie van Onderwijs, Cultuur en Wetenschap024.001.035
Ministerio de Economía y Competitividad


    • Biodegradable nanomotors
    • Biomedical applications
    • Compartmentalization
    • Hybrid nanosystems
    • Stomatocyte


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