Light-driven motorized nanocar built at Rice: step toward molecular manufacturing

Researchers at Rice have build a single-molecule device that rolls along a gold surface, which they have nicknamed the nanocar. From Chemical & Engineering News: “A group led by chemistry professor James M. Tour constructed the tiny four-wheeler from an oligo(phenylene ethynylene) chassis and axle covalently mounted to four fullerene wheels. With the help of electrical engineering professor Kevin F. Kelly and his lab, the team drove this nanocar around on a gold surface using the tip of a scanning tunneling microscope (STM) (Nano Lett., published online Oct. 13,

“Building a working nanocar represents the first step toward molecular manufacturing, according to Tour. ‘It’s the beginning of learning how to manipulate things at the nanolevel in nonbiological systems,’ he says…Tour says the group has subsequently built a nanotruck that can transport molecular cargo as well as a light-driven motorized nanocar.” See the movies.

Robert Bradbury comments: “It’s not a fine motion controller, but it would still appear to be a pretty significant chemical synthesis accomplishment which produces something which really begins to fit the ideas behind ‘molecular nanotechnology’.”

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