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November 9, 2011, 7:57 pm

Single molecule 'electric car'

A single molecule can move across a 'road' surface, fuelled by electrons!

What was discovered?

It sounds unlikely that a single molecule, invisible using a light microscope, could possibly move as if it is powered by an engine, but that is exactly what has been shown with this remarkable molecular motor!


The science involved is an excellent example of what is known as "bottom up" nanotechnology.  That means that the scientists start with a single molecule that has been designed in the laboratory.

Now the molecule, with four branches which can rotate like wheels, has been made and shown to work as a motor!

Why is it important?

This particular molecule may not have any major application in itself, especially since it needs a high vacuum and very, very cold conditions in order to work...  but it is very important as a step forward to show that designer molecular motors can be built.

Are molecular motors important in our lives?  Yes, without them our muscles would not be able to contract (hint: MYOSIN is a protein that acts as a molecular motor)