Now chemists at the University of Illinois at Chicago have created a theoretical blueprint for assembling a nanoscale propeller with molecule-sized blades.
The work is featured in Research Highlights in the July 12 issue of Nature and was described in the June 28 cover story of Physical Review Letters.
Using classical molecular dynamics simulations, Petr Král, assistant professor of chemistry at UIC, and his laboratory coworkers were able to study realistic conditions in this microscopic environment to learn how the tiny propellers pump liquids.
While previous research has looked at how molecular devices rotate in flowing gases, Král and his group are the first to look at molecular propeller pumping of liquids, notably water and oils.
"We want to see what happens when the propellers get to the scale where it's impossible to reduce the size of the blades any more," said Král.
Král's group found that at the molecular level -- unlike at the macro level -- the chemistry of the propeller's blades and their sensitivity to water play a big role in determining whether the propeller pumps efficiently or just spins with little effect. If the blades have a hydrophobic, or water-repelling nature, they pump a lot of water. But if they are hydrophilic -- water-attracting -- they become clogged with water molecules and pump poorly.
"Pumping rates and efficiencies in the hydrophilic and hydrophobic forms can differ by an order of magnitude, which was not expected," he said.
The UIC researchers found that propeller pumping efficiency in liquids is highly sensitive to the size, shape, chemical or biological composition of the blades.
"In principle, we could even attach some biological molecules to the blades and form a propeller that would work only if other molecules bio-compatible with the blades are in the pumped solution," he said.
The findings present new factors to consider in developing nanoscale liquid-pumping machines, but Král added that such technology probably won't become reality for several years, given the difficult nature of constructing such ultra-small devices.
Král's laboratory studies how biological systems, like tiny flagella that move bacteria, offer clues for building motors, motile systems and other nanoscale devices in a hybrid environment that combines biological and inorganic chemistry.
"The 21st century will be about hybrid biological and artificial nanoscale systems and their mutual co-evolution," Král predicts. "My group alone is working on about a half-dozen such projects. I'm optimistic about such nanoscale developments."
Paul Francuch | EurekAlert!
First Juno science results supported by University of Leicester's Jupiter 'forecast'
26.05.2017 | University of Leicester
Measured for the first time: Direction of light waves changed by quantum effect
24.05.2017 | Vienna University of Technology
Staphylococcus aureus is a feared pathogen (MRSA, multi-resistant S. aureus) due to frequent resistances against many antibiotics, especially in hospital infections. Researchers at the Paul-Ehrlich-Institut have identified immunological processes that prevent a successful immune response directed against the pathogenic agent. The delivery of bacterial proteins with RNA adjuvant or messenger RNA (mRNA) into immune cells allows the re-direction of the immune response towards an active defense against S. aureus. This could be of significant importance for the development of an effective vaccine. PLOS Pathogens has published these research results online on 25 May 2017.
Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus) is a bacterium that colonizes by far more than half of the skin and the mucosa of adults, usually without causing infections....
Physicists from the University of Würzburg are capable of generating identical looking single light particles at the push of a button. Two new studies now demonstrate the potential this method holds.
The quantum computer has fuelled the imagination of scientists for decades: It is based on fundamentally different phenomena than a conventional computer....
An international team of physicists has monitored the scattering behaviour of electrons in a non-conducting material in real-time. Their insights could be beneficial for radiotherapy.
We can refer to electrons in non-conducting materials as ‘sluggish’. Typically, they remain fixed in a location, deep inside an atomic composite. It is hence...
Two-dimensional magnetic structures are regarded as a promising material for new types of data storage, since the magnetic properties of individual molecular building blocks can be investigated and modified. For the first time, researchers have now produced a wafer-thin ferrimagnet, in which molecules with different magnetic centers arrange themselves on a gold surface to form a checkerboard pattern. Scientists at the Swiss Nanoscience Institute at the University of Basel and the Paul Scherrer Institute published their findings in the journal Nature Communications.
Ferrimagnets are composed of two centers which are magnetized at different strengths and point in opposing directions. Two-dimensional, quasi-flat ferrimagnets...
An Australian-Chinese research team has created the world's thinnest hologram, paving the way towards the integration of 3D holography into everyday...
24.05.2017 | Event News
23.05.2017 | Event News
22.05.2017 | Event News
26.05.2017 | Life Sciences
26.05.2017 | Life Sciences
26.05.2017 | Physics and Astronomy