Feeds

Boffins build electric car from a single molecule

Titchy transport won't get you far

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

Dutch scientists have reported building a car that's a single molecule wide and is powered by electrons.

The car is built out of a single molecule for the body, with four paddle-shaped “wheels” at the corners. Then electrons were applied by moving the tip of a scanning tunneling microscope close to the device, causing the wheels to be rotated 180 degrees and move the car forward, albeit only by six billionths of a meter after ten electron charges (video here).

Molecular Car

Don't give up the Ferrari

“Scanning tunneling microscopy confirms that activation of the conformational changes of the rotors through inelastic electron tunneling propels the molecule unidirectionally across a Cu(111) surface,” the research team in their report, which was published in Nature.

“The system can be adapted to follow either linear or random surface trajectories or to remain stationary, by tuning the chirality of the individual motor units. Our design provides a starting point for the exploration of more sophisticated molecular mechanical systems with directionally controlled motion.”

Before nanomachine enthusiasts get excited, there is a very long way to go before this has any real-world applications. The entire unit containing the car had to be cooled to seven kelvins (-266 °C) and in a near vacuum for the systems to work, and it is still a long way from a useful application.

In the long term it’s hoped that systems like this could be used to deliver specific materials automatically, either as part of building a larger object or possibly for medical purposes, to send specific medicines to internal locations. ®

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

More from The Register

next story
Antarctic ice THICKER than first feared – penguin-bot boffins
Robo-sub scans freezing waters, rocks warming models
I'll be back (and forward): Hollywood's time travel tribulations
Quick, call the Time Cops to sort out this paradox!
Your PHONE is slowly KILLING YOU
Doctors find new Digitillnesses - 'text neck' and 'telepressure'
Reuse the Force, Luke: SpaceX's Elon Musk reveals X-WING designs
And a floating carrier for recyclable rockets
Britain's HUMAN DNA-strewing Moon mission rakes in £200k
3 days, and Kickstarter moves lander 37% nearer takeoff
Rosetta science team thinks Philae might come to life in the spring
And disclose the biggest surprise of Comet 67P
Bond villains lament as Wicked Lasers withdraw death ray
Want to arm that shark? Better get in there quick
prev story

Whitepapers

Free virtual appliance for wire data analytics
The ExtraHop Discovery Edition is a free virtual appliance will help you to discover the performance of your applications across the network, web, VDI, database, and storage tiers.
Getting started with customer-focused identity management
Learn why identity is a fundamental requirement to digital growth, and how without it there is no way to identify and engage customers in a meaningful way.
The total economic impact of Druva inSync
Examining the ROI enterprises may realize by implementing inSync, as they look to improve backup and recovery of endpoint data in a cost-effective manner.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Website security in corporate America
Find out how you rank among other IT managers testing your website's vulnerabilities.