Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Mini-Motor Models Nature, Advances Miniaturization Technology

Date:
September 10, 1999
Source:
National Institute Of General Medical Sciences
Summary:
For the first time, researchers have designed from scratch a working, chemically powered, molecular motor.

For the first time, researchers have designed from scratch a working, chemically powered, molecular motor.

Natural molecular motors enable bacteria and protozoa to speed through their environments and, in humans, are essential for processes that range from muscle contraction and intracellular transport to oviduct functioning and sperm swimming.

The prototype molecular motor was designed and constructed by Dr. T. Ross Kelly and coworkers at Boston College. A report describing the motor appears in the September 9 issue of Nature.

"This is significant from two points of view," said Dr. John Schwab, a program director at the National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS), which supported the work. "One is that it proves we understand, at least in some sense, how nature might convert chemical energy into controlled motion."

Such knowledge may help scientists understand the molecular motors in muscles and the thread-like hairs called cilia inside lungs and other organs. It may also have future applications in understanding diseases in which molecular motors are faulty, such as some cases of infertility, some respiratory and digestive disorders, and an inherited brain disease.

The work is also an extraordinary example of miniaturization of technology, said Dr. Schwab. "This is going orders of magnitude beyond nanotechnology, which we can visualize using optical microscopy or electron microscopy. We're taking it all the way to the single molecule level, which is quite exciting."

Dr. Kelly's motor is a small organic molecule containing less than 50 carbon atoms. It operates as a unidirectional ratchet and is powered by a chemical called carbonyl dichloride. In contrast, nature's molecular motors are larger protein molecules fueled by the universal unit of cellular energy called adenosine triphosphate (ATP). Dr. Kelly's device mimics the ability of molecular motors to convert chemical energy into ATP and therefore may help researchers understand the natural process at an atomic-level. Dr. Kelly and his group are now modifying their motor to operate faster and to run continuously.

In addition to advancing the scientific understanding of molecular motors, Dr. Kelly sees the work as a continuation of historical efforts at miniaturization. He explains this in a manuscript:

"The development of motors of ever diminishing size has riveted the attention of inventors since the achievement of steam engines by Newcomen and Watt upwards of two centuries ago. Nobel laureate physicist Richard Feynman once posted a $1,000 prize for constructing an operating electric motor only 1/64 inch cube. The award was collected within the year."

The quest for an atomic-level understanding of molecular motors has been described as the most extensive research effort in biophysics in the last forty years. Dr. Kelly provides the first simple model to advance this understanding.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by National Institute Of General Medical Sciences. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

National Institute Of General Medical Sciences. "Mini-Motor Models Nature, Advances Miniaturization Technology." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 10 September 1999. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1999/09/990910080621.htm>.
National Institute Of General Medical Sciences. (1999, September 10). Mini-Motor Models Nature, Advances Miniaturization Technology. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 1, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1999/09/990910080621.htm
National Institute Of General Medical Sciences. "Mini-Motor Models Nature, Advances Miniaturization Technology." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1999/09/990910080621.htm (accessed October 1, 2014).

Share This



More Matter & Energy News

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

US Police Put Body Cameras to the Test

US Police Put Body Cameras to the Test

AFP (Oct. 1, 2014) Police body cameras are gradually being rolled out across the US, with interest surging after the fatal police shooting in August of an unarmed black teenager. Duration: 02:18 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Japan Celebrates 'bullet Train' Anniversary

Raw: Japan Celebrates 'bullet Train' Anniversary

AP (Oct. 1, 2014) A ceremony marking 50 years since Japan launched its Shinkansen bullet train was held on Wednesday in Tokyo. The latest model can travel from Tokyo to Osaka, a distance of 319 miles, in two hours and 25 minutes. (Oct. 1) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Robotic Hair Restoration

Robotic Hair Restoration

Ivanhoe (Oct. 1, 2014) A new robotic procedure is changing the way we transplant hair. The ARTAS robot leaves no linear scarring and provides more natural results. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com
Argentina's Tax Evaders Detected, Hunted Down by Drones

Argentina's Tax Evaders Detected, Hunted Down by Drones

AFP (Sep. 30, 2014) Argentina doesn't only have Lionel Messi the footballer, it has now also acquired "Mesi" the drone system which monitors undeclared mansions, swimming pools and soy fields to curb tax evasion in the country. Duration: 01:18 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Space & Time

Matter & Energy

Computers & Math

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins