An international team of scientists led by Ohio University physicist Sav-Wei Hla has developed molecular motors capable of synchronizing their movements. The research results will help in the development of photonics and electronics and will be useful for creating new computers and nanodevices.
The researchers conducted an experiment in which 500 molecular motors began to rotate synchronously in one direction when a voltage of 1 volt was applied to them through the probe of a tunnel scanning microscope. As the voltage dropped, the motors continued to rotate, but in different directions.
The experiment with synchronized motors was carried out at a temperature of –157 ºC. Each motor consists of two parts: the upper is the rotor, the lower is the stator with eight sulfur atoms as the atomic glue that attaches the stator to the surface of gold or copper. Rotating and stationary decks associated with the europium atom act as an atomic bearing.
Image from a scanning tunneling microscope
Molecular engines are sized according to the name. 1 square centimeter can accommodate 44, 000 billion pieces.
"One of our goals, " said Sav-Wei Hla, "is to assemble billions of nanomachines in tiny spaces that can work synchronously to transmit information or energy in multiple directions in the nanometer range."