Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Nano shuttles suggest lifting things may become thing of the past

07.09.2005


A key technological breakthrough led by the University of Edinburgh suggests that a futuristic world where people can move objects about ‘remotely’ with laser pointers could be closer than we think. Chemists working on the nanoscale (80,000 times smaller than a hair’s breadth) have managed to move a tiny droplet of liquid across a surface – and even up a slope – by transporting it along a layer of light-sensitive molecules.

Scientists at Edinburgh, Groningen and Bologna are the first to manipulate tiny nanoscale machines (two millionths of a millimetre high) so that they can move an object that is visible to the naked eye. The team has shifted microlitre drops of diiodomethane not just across a flat surface, but also up a one millimetre, 12 degree slope against the force of gravity. It may be the tiniest of movements, but, in the emerging discipline of nanotechnology, it represents a giant technological leap forward.

Although many scientists are working with so-called ‘molecular machines’ – a process which involves making the parts of molecules move in a controlled fashion – the Edinburgh-led team is the first to make these machines interact with ‘real world’ objects. Until now, molecular machines have operated in isolation within the laboratory, but this latest piece of research brings them into contact with the everyday world around us.



The research team has developed a Teflon-like surface that is covered with synthetic molecular ‘shuttles’, the components of which move up and down by a millionth of a millimetre when exposed to light. The movement of droplets results from the change in surface properties after most of the shuttle molecules change position. The phenomenon is so efficient that it generates enough energy to move the droplet. In terms of scale, the process is mind-boggling: it is the equivalent of a conventional mechanical machine using a millimetre displacement of pistons to lift an object twice the height of the world’s tallest building.

More …

Molecular machines are ubiquitous throughout biology (they make muscles move, for example), but making tiny artificial machines is not easy because the physics that govern how things behave at the molecular level is very different from conventional physics. That means the prospect of large objects being moved around remotely by lasers is still some way off, but this new study, reported in the current issue of Nature Materials journal, may prove useful for some ‘lab-on-a-chip’ diagnostic techniques, or for performing chemical reactions on a tiny scale without test tubes.

Principal researcher David Leigh, Forbes Professor of Organic Chemistry at the University of Edinburgh, said: “Nature uses molecular machines in virtually every biological process and, when we learn how to build and control such structures, we will surely find they have the potential to revolutionise molecular-based technologies, from health care to ‘smart’ materials. Molecular machines could be used to make artificial muscles, surfaces that change their properties in response to electricity or light or even – one day in the future – to move objects about a room using a laser pointer. These are not the self-replicating ‘grey goo’ nanorobots of science fiction, but rather the life enhancing technologies of tomorrow.”

Ronald Kerr | alfa
Further information:
http://www.ed.ac.uk

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Climate Impact Research in Hannover: Small Plants against Large Waves
17.08.2018 | Leibniz Universität Hannover

nachricht First transcription atlas of all wheat genes expands prospects for research and cultivation
17.08.2018 | Leibniz-Institut für Pflanzengenetik und Kulturpflanzenforschung

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Color effects from transparent 3D-printed nanostructures

New design tool automatically creates nanostructure 3D-print templates for user-given colors
Scientists present work at prestigious SIGGRAPH conference

Most of the objects we see are colored by pigments, but using pigments has disadvantages: such colors can fade, industrial pigments are often toxic, and...

Im Focus: Unraveling the nature of 'whistlers' from space in the lab

A new study sheds light on how ultralow frequency radio waves and plasmas interact

Scientists at the University of California, Los Angeles present new research on a curious cosmic phenomenon known as "whistlers" -- very low frequency packets...

Im Focus: New interactive machine learning tool makes car designs more aerodynamic

Scientists develop first tool to use machine learning methods to compute flow around interactively designable 3D objects. Tool will be presented at this year’s prestigious SIGGRAPH conference.

When engineers or designers want to test the aerodynamic properties of the newly designed shape of a car, airplane, or other object, they would normally model...

Im Focus: Robots as 'pump attendants': TU Graz develops robot-controlled rapid charging system for e-vehicles

Researchers from TU Graz and their industry partners have unveiled a world first: the prototype of a robot-controlled, high-speed combined charging system (CCS) for electric vehicles that enables series charging of cars in various parking positions.

Global demand for electric vehicles is forecast to rise sharply: by 2025, the number of new vehicle registrations is expected to reach 25 million per year....

Im Focus: The “TRiC” to folding actin

Proteins must be folded correctly to fulfill their molecular functions in cells. Molecular assistants called chaperones help proteins exploit their inbuilt folding potential and reach the correct three-dimensional structure. Researchers at the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry (MPIB) have demonstrated that actin, the most abundant protein in higher developed cells, does not have the inbuilt potential to fold and instead requires special assistance to fold into its active state. The chaperone TRiC uses a previously undescribed mechanism to perform actin folding. The study was recently published in the journal Cell.

Actin is the most abundant protein in highly developed cells and has diverse functions in processes like cell stabilization, cell division and muscle...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

LaserForum 2018 deals with 3D production of components

17.08.2018 | Event News

Within reach of the Universe

08.08.2018 | Event News

A journey through the history of microscopy – new exhibition opens at the MDC

27.07.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Smallest transistor worldwide switches current with a single atom in solid electrolyte

17.08.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Robots as Tools and Partners in Rehabilitation

17.08.2018 | Information Technology

Climate Impact Research in Hannover: Small Plants against Large Waves

17.08.2018 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>