Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Self-assembly of nano-rotors

24.11.2010
Mechanical engineering at the molecular level

In the nanoworld many things are different. Scientists only recently started unveiling and harnessing the underlying laws and principles. A team associated with Professor Johannes Barth from the Physics Department of the TU Muenchen have now succeeded in capturing rod-shaped molecules in a two-dimensional network in such a way that they autonomously form small rotors that turn in their honeycomb-like cages.

Nature itself provides the role model for such self-organizing systems. This is how proteins bring reactants so close together that reactions can take place – reactions that are possible only in very close proximity. These effects are put to use in catalysts: surface reactants find their way to each other on the surface of these facilitators. However, the coveted dream of using self-organization effects in such a way that nano machines assemble themselves is still a thing of the future.

The rotors developed in Garching are an important step in this direction. First, the physicists built up an extensive nano lattice by allowing cobalt atoms and rod-shaped molecules of sexiphenyl-dicarbonitrile to react with each other on a silver surface. This results in a honeycomb-like lattice of extreme regularity with astonishing stability. Just like graphene, for which its discoverers were awarded the Nobel Prize only a few weeks ago, this lattice is exactly one atom thick.

When the researchers added further molecular building blocks, the rods spontaneously gathered, typically in groups of three, in a honeycomb cell while neighboring cells remained empty. The chummy molecules must have had a reason for organizing themselves in threesomes. Under a scanning tunneling microscope the scientists were able to recognize why. The three molecules oriented themselves in such a way that the nitrogen ends each faced a phenyl-ring hydrogen atom. This triple-bladed rotor arrangement is so energetically advantageous that the molecules maintain this structure even when thermal energy drives it to rotation.

Because the honeycomb-cell is not round, but hexagonal, there are two different positions for the rotors that can be distinguished as a result of the interactions between the outer nitrogen atoms and the hydrogen atoms of the cell wall. Furthermore, the three molecules arrange in a clockwise and a counter-clockwise manner. In experiments at various carefully controlled temperatures the physicists were able to "freeze" all four states and examine them closely. They could thus determine the energy of these thresholds from the temperature at which the rotation resumed.

"We hope that in future we will be able to extend these simple mechanical models to optical or electronic switching," says Professor Johannes Barth. "We can set a specific cell size, we can specifically bring in further molecules and study their interaction with the surface and the cell wall. These self-organizing structures hold enormous potential."

The research was funded by the European Union (ERC Advanced Grant MolArt), as well as from the Institute for Advanced Study (TUM-IAS), the International Graduate School for Science and Engineering (IGSSE) and the Catalysis Research Center (CRC) at the TU Muenchen. The publication resulted from the collaboration with scientists at the Institute of Nanotechnology of the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology and the Institute of Material Physics and Chemistry of the University of Strasbourg.

Dr. Andreas Battenberg | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.tum.de

More articles from Materials Sciences:

nachricht Think laterally to sidestep production problems
17.10.2017 | King Abdullah University of Science & Technology (KAUST)

nachricht Spin current detection in quantum materials unlocks potential for alternative electronics
16.10.2017 | DOE/Oak Ridge National Laboratory

All articles from Materials Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Neutron star merger directly observed for the first time

University of Maryland researchers contribute to historic detection of gravitational waves and light created by event

On August 17, 2017, at 12:41:04 UTC, scientists made the first direct observation of a merger between two neutron stars--the dense, collapsed cores that remain...

Im Focus: Breaking: the first light from two neutron stars merging

Seven new papers describe the first-ever detection of light from a gravitational wave source. The event, caused by two neutron stars colliding and merging together, was dubbed GW170817 because it sent ripples through space-time that reached Earth on 2017 August 17. Around the world, hundreds of excited astronomers mobilized quickly and were able to observe the event using numerous telescopes, providing a wealth of new data.

Previous detections of gravitational waves have all involved the merger of two black holes, a feat that won the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics earlier this month....

Im Focus: Smart sensors for efficient processes

Material defects in end products can quickly result in failures in many areas of industry, and have a massive impact on the safe use of their products. This is why, in the field of quality assurance, intelligent, nondestructive sensor systems play a key role. They allow testing components and parts in a rapid and cost-efficient manner without destroying the actual product or changing its surface. Experts from the Fraunhofer IZFP in Saarbrücken will be presenting two exhibits at the Blechexpo in Stuttgart from 7–10 November 2017 that allow fast, reliable, and automated characterization of materials and detection of defects (Hall 5, Booth 5306).

When quality testing uses time-consuming destructive test methods, it can result in enormous costs due to damaging or destroying the products. And given that...

Im Focus: Cold molecules on collision course

Using a new cooling technique MPQ scientists succeed at observing collisions in a dense beam of cold and slow dipolar molecules.

How do chemical reactions proceed at extremely low temperatures? The answer requires the investigation of molecular samples that are cold, dense, and slow at...

Im Focus: Shrinking the proton again!

Scientists from the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, using high precision laser spectroscopy of atomic hydrogen, confirm the surprisingly small value of the proton radius determined from muonic hydrogen.

It was one of the breakthroughs of the year 2010: Laser spectroscopy of muonic hydrogen resulted in a value for the proton charge radius that was significantly...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ASEAN Member States discuss the future role of renewable energy

17.10.2017 | Event News

World Health Summit 2017: International experts set the course for the future of Global Health

10.10.2017 | Event News

Climate Engineering Conference 2017 Opens in Berlin

10.10.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Ocean atmosphere rife with microbes

17.10.2017 | Life Sciences

Neutrons observe vitamin B6-dependent enzyme activity useful for drug development

17.10.2017 | Life Sciences

NASA finds newly formed tropical storm lan over open waters

17.10.2017 | Earth Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>