Columbia Engineering researchers have developed a technique to isolate a single water molecule inside a buckyball, or C60, and to drive motion of the so-called "big" nonpolar ball through the encapsulated "small" polar H2O molecule, a controlling transport mechanism in a nanochannel under an external electric field.
They expect this method will lead to an array of new applications, including effective ways to control drug delivery and to assemble C60-based functional 3D structures at the nanoscale level, as well as expanding our understanding of single molecule properties. The study was published as a "Physics Focus" in the April 12 issue of Physical Review Letters.
"Buckyballs, more formally known as Buckminsterfullerenes, or fullerenes, are spherical, hollow molecular structures made of 60 carbon atoms, with the size of ~1 nm—6,000-8,000 times smaller than a regular red blood cell— and, because of their highly symmetrical structure, very hydrophobic core, covalent nonpolar bonds, and more importantly, relatively non-toxicity to the human body, they are a perfect container for drug molecules," explains Xi Chen, associate professor of earth and environmental engineering, who led the research. He and his team believe their work is the first attempt to manipulate a nonpolar molecule (C60) or structure by an inserted polar molecule (H2O).
Chen says his findings may open a new way of controlling and delivering a nonpolar "big" molecule like C60 through the encapsulated "small" polar molecule like H2O. This could lead to important applications in nanotech and biotech areas, including drug delivery where researchers can "imprison" the polar drug molecules inside a hollow structure and then guide them to their targets.
And, from a fundamental point of view, he hopes that the isolated, encapsulated single molecule, like the H2O one in his study, will provide an important platform for revealing and probing inherent characteristics of a single molecule, free from its outside environment.
"The important role of hydrogen bonds in the properties of water, like surface tension and viscosity, and the precise interactions between a single water molecule and hydrogen bonds, are still unclear," Chen notes, "so our new technique to isolate a single water molecule free from any hydrogen bonds provides an opportunity for answering these questions."
Since the discovery of C60 in the 1980s, scientists have been trying to solve the challenge of controlling a single C60. Several mechanical strategies involving AFM (atomic force microscopy) have been developed, but these are costly and time-intensive. The ability to drive a single C60 through a simple external force field, such as an electrical or magnetic field, would be a major step forward.
In the Columbia Engineering study, the researchers found that, when they encapsulated a polar molecule within a nonpolar fullerene, they could use an external electrical field to transport the molecule@fullerene structures to desired positions and adjust the transport velocity so that both delivery direction and time were controllable. Chen's team came up with the idea a year ago, and confirmed their surprising results through extensive atomistic simulations.
Chen plans to explore more properties of the H2O@C60 molecule and other similar structures, and to continue probing the interaction and communication of the encapsulated single water molecule with its surroundings. "Studying the communication of an imprisoned single water molecule with its outside environment such as adjacent molecules," he adds, "is like learning how a person sitting inside a room makes connections with friends outside, selectively on demand (i.e. with control) or randomly (without control) through, say, over the phone."
This research was funded by the National Science Foundation and DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency).
Columbia University's Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science, founded in 1864, offers programs in nine departments to both undergraduate and graduate students. With facilities specifically designed and equipped to meet the laboratory and research needs of faculty and students, Columbia Engineering is home to NSF-NIH funded centers in genomic science, molecular nanostructures, materials science, and energy, as well as one of the world's leading programs in financial engineering. These interdisciplinary centers are leading the way in their respective fields while individual groups of engineers and scientists collaborate to solve some of modern society's more difficult challenges. http://www.engineering.columbia.edu/
Holly Evarts | EurekAlert!
New material for splitting water
19.06.2018 | American Institute of Physics
Carbon nanotube optics provide optical-based quantum cryptography and quantum computing
19.06.2018 | DOE/Los Alamos National Laboratory
Scientists from the University of Freiburg and the University of Basel identified a master regulator for bone regeneration. Prasad Shastri, Professor of...
Moving into its fourth decade, AchemAsia is setting out for new horizons: The International Expo and Innovation Forum for Sustainable Chemical Production will take place from 21-23 May 2019 in Shanghai, China. With an updated event profile, the eleventh edition focusses on topics that are especially relevant for the Chinese process industry, putting a strong emphasis on sustainability and innovation.
Founded in 1989 as a spin-off of ACHEMA to cater to the needs of China’s then developing industry, AchemAsia has since grown into a platform where the latest...
The BMBF-funded OWICELLS project was successfully completed with a final presentation at the BMW plant in Munich. The presentation demonstrated a Li-Fi communication with a mobile robot, while the robot carried out usual production processes (welding, moving and testing parts) in a 5x5m² production cell. The robust, optical wireless transmission is based on spatial diversity; in other words, data is sent and received simultaneously by several LEDs and several photodiodes. The system can transmit data at more than 100 Mbit/s and five milliseconds latency.
Modern production technologies in the automobile industry must become more flexible in order to fulfil individual customer requirements.
An international team of scientists has discovered a new way to transfer image information through multimodal fibers with almost no distortion - even if the fiber is bent. The results of the study, to which scientist from the Leibniz-Institute of Photonic Technology Jena (Leibniz IPHT) contributed, were published on 6thJune in the highly-cited journal Physical Review Letters.
Endoscopes allow doctors to see into a patient’s body like through a keyhole. Typically, the images are transmitted via a bundle of several hundreds of optical...
Light detection and control lies at the heart of many modern device applications, such as smartphone cameras. Using graphene as a light-sensitive material for...
13.06.2018 | Event News
08.06.2018 | Event News
05.06.2018 | Event News
19.06.2018 | Physics and Astronomy
19.06.2018 | Life Sciences
19.06.2018 | Physics and Astronomy