World`s smallest 4wd is a billionth of a metre

Last Updated: Thursday, November 10, 2011 - 09:58

Paris: Scientists in the Netherlands have said they have made a four-wheeled molecule that measures just a billionth of a metre -- 60,000 times smaller than the thickness of a human hair -- and moves in response to a burst of electrons.
The nanometre-sized molecule comprises a central body to which four rotary units, each comprising a few atoms, are attached.

The nanocar is propelled and steered thanks to energy input from a tunnelling electron microscope.

By firing electrons, the microscope induces a change in the interaction between the rotors and a copper surface. As a result, the rotors move around like paddle wheels and drive the wee molecule forward.

The research, reported in the journal Nature, is headed by Ben Feringa, a professor at the University of Groningen.

It marks a new step in a field that developed about half a dozen years ago and sees practical outlets in medicine and nanoscale engineering.


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First Published: Thursday, November 10, 2011 - 08:54

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