Sunday, November 13, 2011

A nano ‘car’ with molecular 4-wheel drive

Scientists at the University of Groningen and Empa have created a 4 nanometer-long artificial nanoscale transport system (“car”) by synthesizing a molecule with four rotating motor units (“wheels”).

The “car” is refueled with electricity after every half revolution of the wheels. To do that, they sublimated the molecule onto a copper surface and positioned an scanning tunneling microscope (STM) tip over it, then applied a small voltage to make electrons “tunnel” through the molecule, triggering reversible structural changes in each of the four motor units (“wheel”).

Next, they plan to develop molecules that can be driven by light, perhaps in the form of UV lasers.

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