9. Feb. 2023

Water and nanorobots. A topic that may be relatively incompatible to the layman, but the scientific community has been dealing with this topic for some time. Among the world's experts on nanorobots are members of Martin Pumera's research group. They were invited by the prestigious Nature Reviews Bioengineering to summarise the current status and latest findings in the use of nanorobots to purify water from microplastics.

Less than 1% of Earth’s freshwater reserves is accessible. Industrialization, population growth and climate change are further exacerbating clean water shortage. Current water-remediation treatments fail to remove most pollutants completely or release toxic by-products into the environment. The use of self-propelled programmable micro- and nanoscale synthetic robots is a promising alternative way to improve water monitoring and remediation by overcoming diffusion-limited reactions and promoting interactions with target pollutants, including nano- and microplastics, persistent organic pollutants, heavy metals, oils and pathogenic microorganisms. This Review introduces the evolution of passive micro- and nanomaterials through active micro- and nanomotors and into advanced intelligent micro- and nanorobots in terms of motion ability, multifunctionality, adaptive response, swarming and mutual communication. After describing removal and degradation strategies, researchers present the most relevant improvements in water treatment, highlighting the design aspects necessary to improve remediation efficiency for specific contaminants. Finally, they open challenges and future directions are discussed for the real-world application of smart micro- and nanorobots.

The authors of the paper are Mario Urso, Martina Ussia and Martin Pumera from the Future Energy and Innovation research group at CEITEC BUT. Their research on light-driven capture and detection of microplastics in microrobots is regularly featured in prestigious scientific journals.

You can read the full text of their latest invited article HERE.

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