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World's First Controllable Molecular Gear At Nanoscale Created

Date:
June 22, 2009
Source:
Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR), Singapore
Summary:
Scientists have scored a breakthrough in nanotechnology by creating the world's first molecular gear of the size of 1.2 nanometers whose rotation can be deliberately controlled.

Researchers in Singapore have invented a molecular gear of the size of 1.2nm whose rotation can be deliberately controlled.
Credit: A*STAR Institute of Materials Research and Engineering (IMRE), Singapore

Scientists from A*STAR’s Institute of Materials Research and Engineering (IMRE), led by Professor Christian Joachim,*  have scored a breakthrough in nanotechnology by becoming the first in the world to invent a molecular gear of the size of 1.2nm whose rotation can be deliberately controlled. This achievement marks a radical shift in the scientific progress of molecular machines and is published on 14 June 20009 in Nature Materials.

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Said Prof Joachim, “Making a gear the size of a few atoms is one thing, but being able to deliberately control its motions and actions is something else altogether. What we’ve done at IMRE is to create a truly complete working gear that will be the fundamental piece in creating more complex molecular machines that are no bigger than a grain of sand.” 

Prof Joachim and his team discovered that the way to successfully control the rotation of a single-molecule gear is via the optimization of molecular design, molecular manipulation and surface atomic chemistry. This was a breakthrough because before the team’s discovery, motions of molecular rotors and gears were random and typically consisted of a mix of rotation and lateral displacement.  The scientists at IMRE solved this scientific conundrum by proving that the rotation of the molecule-gear could be well-controlled by manipulating the electrical connection between the molecule and the tip of a Scanning Tunnelling Microscope while it was pinned on an atom axis.  

Said Dr Lim Khiang Wee, Executive Director of IMRE, “Christian and his team’s discovery shows that it may one day be possible to create and manipulate molecular-level machines. Such machines may, for example, walk on DNA tracks in the future to deliver therapeutics to heal and cure. There already exists at least one international roadmap for creating such productive nanosystems. As we push the frontiers of nanotechnology, we increase our understanding of new phenomena at the nanoscale. This paper is a valuable step on the long road to applying this understanding for discoveries and breakthroughs in nanotechnology and bring to reality the tiny nanobots and nanomachines from science fiction movies.” 

*Prof Christian Joachim is a Visiting Investigator at IMRE since 2005. He is the Director of Research, and Head of Molecular Nanoscience and Picotechnology Group, atthe Centre National de la Recherchι Scientifique (CNRS).


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR), Singapore. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. C. Manzano, W.-H. Soe, H. S. Wong, F. Ample, A. Gourdon, N. Chandrasekhar & C. Joachim. Step-by-step rotation of a molecule-gear mounted on an atomic-scale axis. Nature Materials, Published online: 14 June 2009 DOI: 10.1038/NMAT2467

Cite This Page:

Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR), Singapore. "World's First Controllable Molecular Gear At Nanoscale Created." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 22 June 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/06/090615102036.htm>.
Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR), Singapore. (2009, June 22). World's First Controllable Molecular Gear At Nanoscale Created. ScienceDaily. Retrieved January 25, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/06/090615102036.htm
Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR), Singapore. "World's First Controllable Molecular Gear At Nanoscale Created." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/06/090615102036.htm (accessed January 25, 2015).

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