Controlling nanotechnology scissors for medical uses

For many years we’ve been asked, “How will molecular machines be controlled inside the body?” In a nanotechnology advance that is getting wide attention, University of Tokyo researchers have found a way to build molecular-scale scissors — only 3 nanometers long — and control them with light. As explained at

Researchers in Japan have developed a pair of molecular-scale scissors that open and close in response to light. The tiny scissors are the first example of a molecular machine capable of mechanically manipulating molecules by using light, the scientists say.

The scissors measure just three nanometers in length, small enough to deliver drugs into cells or manipulate genes and other biological molecules, says principal investigator Takuzo Aida, Ph.D., professor of chemistry and biotechnology at the University of Tokyo…

In a recent study, the scientists demonstrated how the light-driven scissors could be used to grasp and twist molecules. The group is now working to develop a larger scissors system that can be manipulated remotely. Practical applications still remain five to 10 years away, the scientists say.

Another molecular machine advance from Japan. It’s good to see multiple countries pursuing the goal.

If you click on “What’s New” on the Aida home page, you’ll see a photo of his group. It has more women than similar labs usually do in the U.S. — wonder what Japan is doing to make this happen? —Christine

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