Rotaxanes, one family of such molecules, are tiny, mechanically interlocked structures that consist of a dumbell-shaped molecule whose rod section is encircled by a ring. These structures behave as molecular "machines," with the ring moving along the rod from one station to another when stimulated by a chemical reaction, light or acidity.
To realize the potential of these molecular machines, however, it is necessary to understand and to measure their function at the nanoscale. Previous methods for observing their operation have involved chemical measurements in solution and studying collections of them attached to surfaces, but neither has provided an accurate picture of their function in environments that are relevant to molecular-device operation.
Now, a multidisciplinary team of researchers from UCLA, Northwestern University, UC Merced, Pennsylvania State University and Japan has succeeded in observing single-molecule interactions of bistable rotaxanes functioning in their native environment.
The team's findings are published in the current edition of the journal ACS Nano.
Led by Paul Weiss from UCLA and Fraser Stoddart from Northwestern University, the team developed a molecular design that firmly attached rotaxanes to a surface, enabling them to be individually examined in their native environment by a scanning tunneling microscope (STM). Using this technology, the researchers were able to record station changes by the rotaxanes' rings along their rods in response to electrochemical signals.
Previously, rotaxanes had to be grouped for study because of their mobility and flexibility when attached to surfaces. And because STM instruments utilize an atomically thin tip to feel out nanoscale surfaces ¯ in much the same way a blind person reads Braille ¯ the rotaxanes' flexible nature made it difficult to study them individually. The research team's molecular design, however, helped significantly reduce this flexibility.
The STM developed by the team enables much more detailed studies of molecular machines, leading to greater understanding of how they interact with their neighbors and how they might work together in nanoelectromechanical devices.
Paul Weiss, distinguished professor of chemistry and biochemistry, holds UCLA's Fred Kavli Chair in Nanosystems Sciences and is director of the California NanoSystems Institute (CNSI) at UCLA. Fraser Stoddart is the Board of Trustees Professor of Chemistry and director of the Center for the Chemistry of Integrated Systems (CCIS) at Northwestern University.
The work was funded by the National Science Foundation, the Semiconductor Research Corporation and the Kavli Foundation.
The California NanoSystems Institute at UCLA is an integrated research center operating jointly at UCLA and UC Santa Barbara whose mission is to foster interdisciplinary collaborations for discoveries in nanosystems and nanotechnology; train the next generation of scientists, educators and technology leaders; and facilitate partnerships with industry, fueling economic development and the social well-being of California, the United States and the world. The CNSI was established in 2000 with $100 million from the state of California and an additional $250 million in federal research grants and industry funding. At the institute, scientists in the areas of biology, chemistry, biochemistry, physics, mathematics, computational science and engineering are measuring, modifying and manipulating the building blocks of our world — atoms and molecules. These scientists benefit from an integrated laboratory culture enabling them to conduct dynamic research at the nanoscale, leading to significant breakthroughs in the areas of health, energy, the environment and information technology.
For more news, visit the UCLA Newsroom and follow us on Twitter.
Mike Rodewald | EurekAlert!
New study: How does Europe become a leading player for software and IT services?
03.04.2017 | Fraunhofer-Institut für System- und Innovationsforschung (ISI)
Reusable carbon nanotubes could be the water filter of the future, says RIT study
30.03.2017 | Rochester Institute of Technology
The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.
Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...
The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...
Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.
Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...
Two researchers at Heidelberg University have developed a model system that enables a better understanding of the processes in a quantum-physical experiment...
Glaciers might seem rather inhospitable environments. However, they are home to a diverse and vibrant microbial community. It’s becoming increasingly clear that they play a bigger role in the carbon cycle than previously thought.
A new study, now published in the journal Nature Geoscience, shows how microbial communities in melting glaciers contribute to the Earth’s carbon cycle, a...
20.04.2017 | Event News
18.04.2017 | Event News
03.04.2017 | Event News
21.04.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
21.04.2017 | Health and Medicine
21.04.2017 | Physics and Astronomy