Trapping and detecting nanoplastics by MXene-derived oxide microrobots

June 28, 2022


Trapping and detecting nanoplastics by MXene-derived oxide microrobots


Mario Urso, Martina Ussia, Filip Novotný & Martin Pumera




Nature Communications


Nanoplastic pollution, the final product of plastic waste fragmentation in the environment, represents an increasing concern for the scientific community due to the easier diffusion and higher hazard associated with their small sizes. Therefore, there is a pressing demand for effective strategies to quantify and remove nanoplastics in wastewater. This work presents the “on-the-fly” capture of nanoplastics in the three-dimensional (3D) space by multifunctional MXene-derived oxide microrobots and their further detection. A thermal annealing process is used to convert Ti3C2Tx MXene into photocatalytic multi-layered TiO2, followed by the deposition of a Pt layer and the decoration with magnetic γ-Fe2O3 nanoparticles. The MXene-derived γ-Fe2O3/Pt/TiO2 microrobots show negative photogravitaxis, resulting in a powerful fuel-free motion with six degrees of freedom under light irradiation. Owing to the unique combination of self-propulsion and programmable Zeta potential, the microrobots can quickly attract and trap nanoplastics on their surface, including the slits between multi-layer stacks, allowing their magnetic collection. Utilized as self-motile preconcentration platforms, they enable nanoplastics’ electrochemical detection using low-cost and portable electrodes. This proof-of-concept study paves the way toward the “on-site” screening of nanoplastics in water and its successive remediation.




nanoplastic, pollutions, environment,