Researchers at Rice University have developed a new type of nanocar that moves at room temperature — a first for the molecule-sized “vehicles” that previous needed to be heated to 200 degrees Celsius in order to run.
The super-tiny cars have a paddlewheel motor powered by light energy.
First developed in the laboratory of James Tour in 2005, the original nanocar was a single-molecule vehicle with buckyball wheels and flexible axles. Since then, Tour and his team have built nanotrucks, nanabackhoes and other ultramicroscopic vehicles.
“In terms of computing, having these single molecules be addressable is a goal everybody wants to reach,” said Stephan Link, an assistant professor of chemistry at Rice. “And to understand and emulate biophysics and biomechanics, to build a device based on what nature gives us, is of course one of the dreams of nanotechnology.”