Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Maxwell's Demon: Nano Machine Of The Future Captures Great Scientist's Bold Vision

Date:
February 6, 2007
Source:
University of Edinburgh
Summary:
An idea conceived by one of the world's greatest scientists nearly 150 years ago has finally been realised with a tiny machine that could eventually lead to lasers moving objects remotely.

An idea conceived by one of the world's greatest scientists nearly 150 years ago has finally been realised with a tiny machine that could eventually lead to lasers moving objects remotely.

Related Articles


James Clerk Maxwell, who is ranked along Isaac Newton and Albert Einstein for his contributions to science, imagined an atom-sized device -- known as Maxwell's Demon -- that could trap molecules as they move in a specific direction.

Now scientists at the University of Edinburgh, inspired by Maxwell's thought experiment in 1867, have been able to create such a "nanomachine" for the first time with their own "demon" inside it to ensnare the molecules as they move.

The work, published in the 1 February issue of the journal Nature, could ultimately lead to scientists harnessing the energy of the molecules to displace solid objects from a distance.

Professor David Leigh, of the University of Edinburgh's School of Chemistry, said: "Our machine has a device -- or 'demon' if you like -- inside it that traps molecule-sized particles as they move in a certain direction. Maxwell reasoned that if such a system could ever be made it would need energy to work. Without energy, it might appear that the perpetual motion of the molecules could power other devices in the same way as a windmill, but Maxwell reasoned that this would go against the second law of thermodynamics.

"As he predicted, the machine does need energy and in our experiment it is powered by light. While light has previously been used to energise tiny particles directly, this is the first time that a system has been devised to trap molecules as they move in a certain direction under their natural motion. Once the molecules are trapped they cannot escape."

Applications of the nanotechnology machine could include trapping molecules to generate a force in front of a solid object using a laser pen. By shining the pen in the direction you want the object to move, the force of the molecules could be harnessed to push the object along.

The invention of the nanotechnology machine builds on previous work at the university in which scientists were able to move a droplet of liquid up a slope using molecular force.

"Last year was the 175th anniversary of James Clerk Maxwell's birth in Edinburgh, so it is fitting that advances in science mean that we can finally create a machine like the hypothetical one he pondered over so long ago," said Prof Leigh.

"Maxwell was instrumental to our understanding of light, heat, and the behaviour of atoms and molecules. Without the foundations that he laid down a century-and-a-half ago, the science that we are doing today would not have been possible."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Edinburgh. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Edinburgh. "Maxwell's Demon: Nano Machine Of The Future Captures Great Scientist's Bold Vision." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 6 February 2007. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/02/070201144706.htm>.
University of Edinburgh. (2007, February 6). Maxwell's Demon: Nano Machine Of The Future Captures Great Scientist's Bold Vision. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 30, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/02/070201144706.htm
University of Edinburgh. "Maxwell's Demon: Nano Machine Of The Future Captures Great Scientist's Bold Vision." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/02/070201144706.htm (accessed October 30, 2014).

Share This



More Matter & Energy News

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Mind-Controlled Prosthetic Arm Restores Amputee Dexterity

Mind-Controlled Prosthetic Arm Restores Amputee Dexterity

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Oct. 29, 2014) A Swedish amputee who became the first person to ever receive a brain controlled prosthetic arm is able to manipulate and handle delicate objects with an unprecedented level of dexterity. The device is connected directly to his bone, nerves and muscles, giving him the ability to control it with his thoughts. Matthew Stock reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Robots Get Funky on the Dance Floor

Robots Get Funky on the Dance Floor

AP (Oct. 29, 2014) Dancing, spinning and fighting robots are showing off their agility at "Robocomp" in Krakow. (Oct. 29) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Saharan Solar Project to Power Europe

Saharan Solar Project to Power Europe

Reuters - Business Video Online (Oct. 29, 2014) A solar energy project in the Tunisian Sahara aims to generate enough clean energy by 2018 to power two million European homes. Matt Stock reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Lowe's Testing Robot Sales Assistants in California Store

Lowe's Testing Robot Sales Assistants in California Store

Buzz60 (Oct. 29, 2014) Lowe’s is testing out what it’s describing as a robotic shopping assistant in one of its Orchard Supply Hardware Stores in California. Jen Markham explains. Video provided by Buzz60
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