Light-Triggered Drug Release from 3D-Printed Magnetic Chitosan Microswimmers

Ugur Bozuyuk, Oncay Yasa, I. Ceren Yasa, Hakan Ceylan, Seda Kizilel, Metin Sitti

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Advances in design and fabrication of functional micro/nanomaterials have sparked growing interest in creating new mobile microswimmers for various healthcare applications, including local drug and other cargo (e.g., gene, stem cell, and imaging agent) delivery. Such microswimmer-based cargo delivery is typically passive by diffusion of the cargo material from the swimmer body; however, controlled active release of the cargo material is essential for on-demand, precise, and effective delivery. Here, we propose a magnetically powered, double-helical microswimmer of 6 μm diameter and 20 μm length that can on-demand actively release a chemotherapeutic drug, doxorubicin, using an external light stimulus. We fabricate the microswimmers by two-photon-based 3D printing of a natural polymer derivative of chitosan in the form of a magnetic polymer nanocomposite. Amino groups presented on the microswimmers are modified with doxorubicin by means of a photocleavable linker. Chitosan imparts the microswimmers with biocompatibility and biodegradability for use in a biological setting. Controlled steerability of the microswimmers is shown under a 10 mT rotating magnetic field. With light induction at 365 nm wavelength and 3.4 × 10-1 W/cm2 intensity, 60% of doxorubicin is released from the microswimmers within 5 min. Drug release is ceased by controlled patterns of light induction, so as to adjust the desired release doses in the temporal domain. Under physiologically relevant conditions, substantial degradation of the microswimmers is shown in 204 h to nontoxic degradation products. This study presents the combination of light-triggered drug delivery with magnetically powered microswimmer mobility. This approach could be extended to similar systems where multiple control schemes are needed for on-demand medical tasks with high precision and efficiency.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)9617-9625
Number of pages9
JournalACS Nano
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 25 2018


  • biodegradation
  • chitosan
  • drug delivery
  • light-triggered
  • microswimmer
  • two-photon polymerization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Materials Science(all)
  • Engineering(all)
  • Physics and Astronomy(all)


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