Using linkers for feet (shown in red), the molecule "9,10-dithioanthracene" moves in a straight line on a flat surface, such as a copper sheet shown here, by mimicking a human walking. Photo credit: L. Bartels.
Moving one step at a time, newly designed molecule walks in a straight line; potential applications in molecular computing
A research team, led by UC Riverside’s Ludwig Bartels, is the first to design a molecule that can move in a straight line on a flat surface. It achieves this by closely mimicking human walking. The “nano-walker” offers a new approach for storing large amounts of information on a tiny chip and demonstrates that concepts from the world we live in can be duplicated at the nanometer scale – the scale of atoms and molecules.
The molecule – 9,10-dithioanthracene or “DTA” – has two linkers that act as feet. Obtaining its energy from heat supplied to it, the molecule moves such that only one of the linkers is lifted from the surface; the remaining linker guides the motion of the molecule and keeps it on course. Alternating the motions of its two “feet,” DTA is able to walk in a straight line without the assistance of nano-rails or nano-grooves for guidance.
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