To prepare the fluorescent nanodiamond–functionalized slippery micropropellers, the oxygen plasma–treated microhelices were immersed into the toluene solution containing 1% (v/v) 3-aminopropyltriethoxysilane (Sigma-Aldrich) and 0.01% (v/v) triethanolamine at 75°C overnight (46). After washing with toluene, acetone, and water, the wafer was then incubated with nanodiamonds [0.1 mg/ml; 40 nm in diameter, carboxylic groups; Adámas Nanotechnologies], 200 mM 1-ethyl-3-(3-dimethylaminopropyl)carbodiimide, and 50 mM N-hydroxysuccinimide in 0.1 M acetic acid at pH 5 overnight under intensive stirring (47). To functionalize the slippery layer onto the microhelices, an Al2O3 adhesion layer with a thickness of 10 nm was deposited onto the microhelix wafer via atomic layer deposition (ALD) for 100 cycles by repeatedly pulsing the trimethylaluminum precursors and water for 0.15 s, respectively. The ALD and nanodiamond-functionalized wafer with microhelix patterns was subjected to the same coating procedure as the uncoated microhelix wafer.

A ~3-mm incision was made, and 100 μl of solution containing the fluorescent slippery micropropellers was injected into the center of the vitreous using a 100-μl pipette. The eye was placed in a magnetic field of 80 mT rotating at 70 Hz. After the magnetic propulsion, the porcine eye was cut with a scalpel, followed by mechanically removing the vitreous, cutting the sclera into squares (1 cm by 1 cm) according to the report (48), and staining with DAPI. The fluorescence of the propellers was excited by a light-emitting diode (LED) (Illumination system Colibri.2, Carl Zeiss Microscopy) with a center wavelength of 470 nm, and the fluorescent images were captured through a beam splitter HC BS 409 (AHF Analysentechnik AG) and a filter (607/36 BrightLine HC, AHF Analysentechnik AG). The fluorescence of DAPI was excited by a LED with a center wavelength of 365 nm, and the images were captured through a beam splitter HC-Quadband (AHF Analysentechnik AG) and a filter (409/LP Longpass Filter BrightLine, AHF Analysentechnik AG). The experiment was independently repeated three times.

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