Friday, October 28, 2005

Monomolecular Wheels

` Weird! This morning I checked out my inbox extra-early to find an article in the Materials Science and Nanotechnology section of Nature publications, describing an odd kind of rolling prototype vehicle that is 3x4 nanometers in size!

` Says the article:

Their chassis is shaped like a letter H, with two axles linked by a central rod. All these units are composed of carbon–carbon triple bonds alternating with benzene rings.

The key to the nanocar is the wheels. These are made of C60 molecules attached to the tips of the axles, joined by bonds that are free to rotate.

` I am guessing that these molecules are cylinderical fullerenes, also called nanotubes.

These nanoscale molecules stick to a gold surface and, when warmed to above 170 °C, begin to move. This happens in a zigzag fashion: a nanocar travels in a single direction for a short distance, and then pivots to a new direction before proceeding again. The forward motion is always perpendicular to the orientation of the axles, which is evident from STM images in which the four C60 molecules can be clearly seen.

` According to all the tests they've pulled on these things, the wheels really are rolling forward - in fact, ones with three different axles can only spin in place like office chairs with three fixed wheels.
` James Tour's team at the Rice University in Houston are the ones who are responsible for making what may be the smallest molecular monstrosities in Texas!

5 comments:

Galtron said...

Why make a car with chemistry - are they for tiny, miniature Particle People to drive or something?

cassie d said...

they are for sea monkeys.

they have families, ya know? gotta get the kids to soccer practice.

S E E Quine said...

` That explains some things...

Aaron said...

Sweet! Do the nanocars come with kick ass sound systems? I want to drop some bombs on the hot gold.

S E E Quine said...

` Heeeheee! Sound systems made of just a few molecules! I can see that being next on the nanomachine agenda...