The latest model electric car has just been revealed in an article … of Nature. It is presented by researchers at the institute Empa Swiss and Dutch as their colleagues, probably a record for small nano-vehicles.
This is not the first time explorers of the nano-world nano-car build a just a few nanometers or nano-motor power of a comparable scale runs under the action of a scanning tunneling microscope. But it seems that we have here a combination of both, actually constitutes the smallest electric nano-car, conducted at Empa (Federal Laboratories for Materials Testing and Research).
All four wheels at the moment can not rotate in one direction … and it is not always easy to rotate them all at once. Charging electricity is conducted through the tip of a scanning tunneling microscope, the type that was used for IBM to start the conquest of the nano-world. Autonomy is also miniature charging allows only make a half turn of the wheel each time.
Image of nano-car obtained scanning tunneling microscope. © Empa Switzerland
Towards a molecular motor
We must therefore repeat the operation several times, hoping each time that all the wheels will turn. Researchers have still managed to advance their prototype almost in a straight line on a track made of copper. After ten recharges,nanocar moved forward a distance of 6 nm.
This is another attempt to reproduce the molecular motors that are known to operate in living cells, with the hope of one day building a real molecular nano-robots be controlled by computer. If it goes ahead, this new robotics could revolutionize our lives according to the proponents of the technological singularity. In the meantime, we can see the Nature article explaining in detail what was done by the researchers at the University of Groningen and Empa.
Molecular car 4 x 2 nanometers circulates on a copper surface with electrically driven wheels. Basically, it is a sublimated molecule on a copper surface at a temperature of 7 Kelvin. A voltage of 500 mV is applied to the tip of a scanning tunneling microscope at the right distance so that the electrons through the molecule, triggering a reversible structural change in each of the “wheels” that can be seen on the diagram above. © Empa Switzerland