All machines convert one form of energy into another form - for example a car engine turns the energy stored in fuel into motion energy. Those processes of energy conversion, described by the theory called thermodynamics, don't only take place on the macro-level of big machines, but also at the micro-level of molecular machines that drive muscles or metabolic processes and even on the atomic level.
The research team of Prof. Massimiliano Esposito of the University of Luxembourg studies the thermodynamics of small nanomachines only consisting of a few atoms. In a paper published in the prestigious scientific journal Physical Review X, they outline how these small machines behave in concert.
Density plot of the power output of an energy-converting network that consists of interacting nano-machines illustrated by the spheres. The power increases from red to blue color, thus in the synchronization phase corresponding to the area enclosed by the white dashed lines, the output of the network is maximized.
Credit: University of Luxembourg
Their insights could be used to improve the energy efficiency of all kinds of machines, big or small.
Recent progress in nanotechnology has enabled researchers to understand the world in ever-smaller scales and even allows for the design and manufacture of extremely small artificial machines.
"There is evidence that these machines are far more efficient than large machines, such as cars. Yet in absolute terms, the output is low compared to the needs we have in daily life applications," explains Tim Herpich, PhD student at Esposito's research group and main author of the paper. "That is why we studied how the nanomachines interact with each other and looked at how ensembles of those small machines behave. We wanted to see if there are synergies when they act in concert."
The researchers found that the nanomachines under certain conditions start to arrange in "swarms" and synchronise their movements.
"We could show that the synchronisation of the machines triggers significant synergy effects, so that the overall energy output of the ensemble is far greater than the sum of the individual outputs," said Prof. Esposito.
While this is basic research, the principles outlined in the paper could potentially be used to improve the efficiency of any machine in the future, the researcher explains.
In order to simulate and study the energetic behaviour of swarms of nanomachines, the scientists created mathematical models that are based on existing literature and outcomes of experimental research.
Thomas Klein | EurekAlert!
Junior scientists at the University of Rostock invent a funnel for light
27.03.2020 | Universität Rostock
Ultrafast and broadband perovskite photodetectors for large-dynamic-range imaging
23.03.2020 | Changchun Institute of Optics, Fine Mechanics and Physics, Chinese Academy of Sciences
Together with their colleagues from the University of Würzburg, physicists from the group of Professor Alexander Szameit at the University of Rostock have devised a “funnel” for photons. Their discovery was recently published in the renowned journal Science and holds great promise for novel ultra-sensitive detectors as well as innovative applications in telecommunications and information processing.
The quantum-optical properties of light and its interaction with matter has fascinated the Rostock professor Alexander Szameit since College.
Researchers at the University of Zurich show that different stem cell populations are innervated in distinct ways. Innervation may therefore be crucial for proper tissue regeneration. They also demonstrate that cancer stem cells likewise establish contacts with nerves. Targeting tumour innervation could thus lead to new cancer therapies.
Stem cells can generate a variety of specific tissues and are increasingly used for clinical applications such as the replacement of bone or cartilage....
An international research team led by Kiel University develops an extremely porous material made of "white graphene" for new laser light applications
With a porosity of 99.99 %, it consists practically only of air, making it one of the lightest materials in the world: Aerobornitride is the name of the...
Researchers at Graz University of Technology have developed a framework by which wireless devices with different radio technologies will be able to communicate directly with each other.
Whether networked vehicles that warn of traffic jams in real time, household appliances that can be operated remotely, "wearables" that monitor physical...
Terahertz waves are becoming ever more important in science and technology. They enable us to unravel the properties of future materials, test the quality of...
26.03.2020 | Event News
23.03.2020 | Event News
03.03.2020 | Event News
27.03.2020 | Power and Electrical Engineering
27.03.2020 | Life Sciences
27.03.2020 | Life Sciences