Smallest 1 nanometer wide electrical motor unleashed: Research

Molecular Motor

There seems to be a new entrant in the Guinness World Records as the smallest electrical motor on the Earth. Tufts University researchers have apparently developed an electrical motor that is just 1 nanometer wide.

This could be the first stage of a new group of devices that ought to have medicinal as well as engineering applications. Single molecule motors are not entirely new, but either chemicals or light have been the driving forces. The scientists believe that such a motor fueled by electricity is far more beneficial than the others.

“The excitement is in the demonstration that you can provide electricity to a single molecule and get it to do something that’s not just random,” cited team leader Charles Sykes, an associate professor of chemistry in the School of Arts and Sciences.

This technology used scanning tunneling microscope which allows landing on the upper panel of a molecule that can then be measured and rotated suitably. Sykes and his team made use of the metal tip of the microscope to power the butyl methyl sulfide molecule that was kept on a copper surface. With a sulfur atom at the center, there were radiating carbon atoms that formed two arms. Precisely, four carbon atoms on one side and one on other end were used. Subsequently, such arms tend to play the role of gears, as one molecule is charged, it rolls and spins others in series.

However, Sykes warns that applications of the single-molecule electric motor for practical use are yet afar. But he hopes that it could be as medical test devices that constitute tiny pipes. They may also be used in nanoelectromechanical systems. In this experiment the analysts reduced the temperature around the molecular motor to minus 450 degrees F probably because as temperature increases, the motor turns speedily making it difficult for the investigators to note the rotations. Two different testers counted each set of rotations. This seemingly resulted in a double-blind process, to assure that the rotations were counted with accuracy. Sykes concluded that they will work more on this front and gauge the ways in which these molecular motors function.

The findings are reported in a paper published in Nature Nanotechnology on September 4.

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