UCLA chemists have created the first nano valve that can be opened and closed at will to trap and release molecules. The discovery, funded by the U.S. National Science Foundation, was published July 19 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
“The fact that we can take a bistable molecule that behaves as a switch in a silicon-based electronic device at the nanoscale level and fabricate it differently to work as part of a nano valve on porous silica is something I find really satisfying about this piece of research,” Prof. Fraser Stoddart said. “It shows that these little pieces of molecular machinery are highly adaptable and resourceful, and means that we can move around in the nanoworld with the same molecular tool kit and adapt it to different needs on demand.”
Stoddart has noted that it is only in the past 100 years that humankind has learned how to fly. Prior to the first demonstration of manned flight, there were many great scientists and engineers who said it was impossible. “Building artificial molecular machines and getting them to operate is where airplanes were a century ago,” Stoddart said. “We have come a long way in the last decade, but we have a very, very long way to go yet to realize the full potential of artificial molecular machines.”
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