Nanotechnology motors use enhanced catalysis to surpass speeds of biological motors

At the macro scale engineered motors are far more powerful than biological motors, but this has not been true with nanotech motors. Now, by adding carbon nanotubes to catalytic nanowires, nanotechnology has produced simple nanomotors that can surpass biological motors (somewhat). From the American Chemical Society, via AAAS EurekAlert “Go Speed Racer! Revving up the world’s fastest nanomotors“:

In a “major step” toward a practical energy source for powering tomorrow’s nanomachines, researchers in Arizona report development of a new generation of sub-microscopic nanomotors that are up to 10 times more powerful than existing motors.

In the new study, Joseph Wang and colleagues point out that existing nanomotors, including so-called “catalytic nanomotors,” are made with gold and platinum nanowires and use hydrogen peroxide fuel for self-propulsion. But these motors are too slow and inefficient for practical use, with top speeds of about 10 micrometers per second, the researchers say…

Wang and colleagues supercharged their nanomotors by inserting carbon nanotubes into the platinum, thus boosting average speed to 60 micrometers per second. Spiking the hydrogen peroxide fuel with hydrazine (a type of rocket fuel) kicked up the speed still further, to 94-200 micrometers per second. This innovation “offers great promise for self-powered nanoscale transport and delivery systems,” the scientists state.

The research is published in ACS Nano (abstract)

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