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Electric Motor Made From a Single Molecule

samzenpus posted more than 3 years ago | from the miro-machine dept.

Science 82

An anonymous reader writes "For the first time, an electric motor has been made from a single molecule. At 1 nanometre long, it's the smallest electric motor ever. Its creators plan to submit their design to Guinness World Records, but the teeny motor could have practical applications, such as pushing fluid through narrow pipes in 'lab-on-a-chip' devices. E. Charles Sykes at Tufts University in Boston and colleagues anchored lopsided butyl methyl sulphide to a copper surface and flowed current through it."

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does it comes with gears? (1)

pietros (1062744) | more than 3 years ago | (#37309022)

does it comes with gears?

Re:does it comes with gears? (1)

steeviant (677315) | more than 3 years ago | (#37316326)

Who cares about gears? As far as I can see this isn't a one molecule motor unless you exclude the "copper surface". If you're allowed to ignore half of the motor assembly then all brushless electric motors in fact have only one part, the rotor. A true one-molecule motor would have to work as both rotor and stator which is a nonsensical concept. I know the person who made up the title was trying to be exciting, but it's so wrong as to be idiotic.

For a sense of scale, (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37309038)

It is shown alongside Sarah Palin's brain.

Re:For a sense of scale, (-1, Offtopic)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 3 years ago | (#37309122)

They tried it, but they have trouble finding her brain. Heisenberg might have his fingers in there.

Re:For a sense of scale, (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37309334)

Heisenberg might have his fingers in there.

In Palin? That sounds like a job for Lisa Ann [wordpress.com] ...

Re:For a sense of scale, (0)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | more than 3 years ago | (#37310408)

You're thinking of the theoretical subatomic particle known as the Bachmann Neuron. The scientists at the LHC are going to investigate its existence once they've finished their work on the Higgs Boson - that's much more important, and most research suggest that the Bachmann Neuron is very unlikely to exist anyways.

Re:For a sense of scale, (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 3 years ago | (#37313956)

Much like Palin's brain, so they are quite comparable.

Re:For a sense of scale, (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37309296)

That sounds like a vote better spent on, any day, than current Liberal BLACK hole of a president. At least we know she has a brain. This guy's brain is sucking everything in and putting nothing out other than brilliantly blinding speeches as matter/ideas/tax dollars and people's lives are being destroyed. I'm sure he will be easily remembered as a Black Hole of a president.

Re:For a sense of scale, (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37309394)

conservobot (tm) 2012 on /. too!
It is literally popping up everywhere to reduce the intellect by at least 1/3.

Re:For a sense of scale, (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37309428)

Whose brain is smaller, li'l bam-bam's - or yours? You liberal-mo.

Re:For a sense of scale, (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37309696)

die

Re:For a sense of scale, (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37309534)

But what does that say about the people that voted for Obama? She has more executive experience than Obama had when he stepped into the White House.

When did Hope become a rational political decision criteria.

Re:For a sense of scale, (1, Interesting)

somersault (912633) | more than 3 years ago | (#37309632)

Just because someone has "experience", doesn't make them good. Especially if they're clearly and terrifyingly ignorant. Usually I don't give a fuck about politics, but if I were American, I would have voted for Obama. I would have voted for a mouldy lump of cheese over Palin. The only person I'd trust less than her is that beauty pageant woman talking about "the Iraq and such as like".

Let me guess, (1)

Quila (201335) | more than 3 years ago | (#37316354)

You think she said she could see Russia from her house in Alaska.

Re:Let me guess, (1)

somersault (912633) | more than 3 years ago | (#37317780)

Nope, I just remember seeing her on an interview or two.

Did she do something stupid like (1)

Quila (201335) | more than 3 years ago | (#37319128)

Refer to the 57 US states?

Refer to a Navy corpsman as "corpse man"?

Think Sioux Falls SD is in Iowa?

Say Arkansas was closer to Kentucky than Illinois?

Think that the same languages are spoken in Iraq and Afghanistan so that translators assigned to Iraq (who speak Arabic or Kurdish) could be effectively reassigned to Afghanistan (where they speak Pashto or Farsi)?

Oh wait, that was Obama.

And don't even get me started on Biden.

I can't stand Palin myself, but she's nowhere near taking the cake on ignorance and gaffes.

If Sarah Palin had one more brain cell... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37310608)

If Sarah Palin had one more brain cell, it would be lonely.

imagine a beowulf cl.. (0)

decora (1710862) | more than 3 years ago | (#37309042)

imagine if you took a conical bath...

Re:imagine a beowulf cl.. (1)

Narcogen (666692) | more than 3 years ago | (#37315942)

It's a marvelous way to relax.

faping (1, Interesting)

rim_namor (2454342) | more than 3 years ago | (#37309046)

That's what I get for reading TFA.

Molecules have previously converted energy from light and chemical reactions into directed motion like rolling or flapping. Electricity has also set an oxygen molecule spinning randomly. But controlled, electrically-driven motion â" necessary for a device to be classed as a motor â" had not yet been observed in a single molecule.

Try reading that and try not to get the wrong impression. Faping?

Clearly (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37309072)

It clearly reads "flapping."

Stop fapping so much, turns your brain into jelly.

Re:Clearly (2)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#37309092)

The GP can't help it, he's going blind.

Re:Clearly (2)

rim_namor (2454342) | more than 3 years ago | (#37309490)

shuf,is't hard to typee with all this hair on th epalms and the screen needs a thoro wipingg, things are a blur.

Drivers? (2)

jonahbron (2278074) | more than 3 years ago | (#37309094)

When will they release drivers for Linux?

Re:Drivers? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37309148)

Just as soon as your mother gets raped by a Grue.

unfortunately (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37309192)

he's probably right

the real WTF here... (0)

advocate_one (662832) | more than 3 years ago | (#37309134)

Is that they want $18 for instant access to the full document...

Re:the real WTF here... (4, Informative)

confused one (671304) | more than 3 years ago | (#37309208)

Not unusual for the major scientific journals to require payment if you don't have a membership.

Re:the real WTF here... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37309972)

They're holding science to ransom. If you don't pay up, you don't get any science. Only rich people can become scientists.

Re:the real WTF here... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37311542)

Scientists work for institutions that can pay for it. They're most certainly not rich :(

Re:the real WTF here... (1)

mug funky (910186) | more than 3 years ago | (#37311966)

$18 = rich.

also, universities tend to share a single subscription with their students.

Re:the real WTF here... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37312294)

$18 per article = rich.

going to university = rich.

the vast majority of the people on the world today spend their day trying to earn enough to feed & clothe themselves and their families. $18 is indeed rich to billions of people. asshole.

About time (1)

countertrolling (1585477) | more than 3 years ago | (#37309186)

Now I can see how my car [sciencedaily.com] does on the quarter mile

Re:About time (1)

Coren22 (1625475) | more than 3 years ago | (#37344306)

I can sure see that being lost in a parking lot.

Slightly disingenuous (1)

MacTO (1161105) | more than 3 years ago | (#37309194)

Impressive yes, but it looks like they`re defining a motor as an armateur while ignoring the equipment that generates the electric fields.

Re:Slightly disingenuous (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37309252)

Impressive yes, but it looks like they`re defining a motor as an armateur while ignoring the equipment that generates the electric fields.

No.

FTFA:

the molecule's hops were not random but slightly biased towards rotating clockwise, allowing the researchers to classify it as a motor.

Definition of electric motor [wikimedia.org]

An electric motor converts electrical energy into mechanical energy.

If you're going to be a pedant on Slashdot, you really need to practice more - Mr. Over-a-million-user-id

Re:Slightly disingenuous (1)

fluffy99 (870997) | more than 3 years ago | (#37312114)

Most people would define an electric motor as something that takes electricity and produces motion, not an electric field. The molecule by itself, not attached to the copper doesn't rotate. By your definition, a hydrogen atom is a motor as it will move in an electric field.

Re:Slightly disingenuous (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37313844)

The molecule on its own is not a motor. It requires the copper plate and the needle tip to become one.

Re:Slightly disingenuous (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37309528)

"armateur "

OK, what's an armateur? Someone who dabbles in arms? How come people spell "amateur" as "amature" but "armature" as "armateur"? And why, in 2011, with 8 cores running at 3GHz and 24G of RAM, DOES NO ONE TURN ON THE FUCKING SPELL CHECKER!?

Re:Slightly disingenuous (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37310096)

Geez, don't loose your mind over it, I mean...

slashdot wtf?! (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37309198)

wtf has happened to /. is it really all trolls? doesn't anyone have anything useful to say?

Re:slashdot wtf?! (1)

turkeyfeathers (843622) | more than 3 years ago | (#37309782)

All the more intelligent Slashdot posters from the past are now spending all their time mining BitCoins. It's the only currency that's guaranteed not to be inflated away when the Euro and US$ collapse.

Re:slashdot wtf?! (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37309834)

Not so! Many of them aren't posting comments since they're too busy reading all those highly-rated Packt books.

the axis (2)

rim_namor (2454342) | more than 3 years ago | (#37309216)

the axis is a few atoms of copper, the asymmetric butyl methyl sulphide molecule, which is a sulphur atom with a chain of four carbons on one side and a lone carbon atom on the other. The molecule is pinned down somehow by the copper atoms 'binding'? to sulphuf atom, which forms a 'propeller' and then they apply DC to it and the molecule rotates 50 times a second. I say what, build 2 of these, link the copper parts together, attach the world's smallest battery and put an amoeba on top. You got yourself the world's smallest biker.

Re:the axis (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37309262)

amoebas are way too big to and would probably just float off and disappear. we're talking nanoscale

Re:the axis (1)

lysdexia (897) | more than 3 years ago | (#37315674)

I dunno, how big is Raquel Welch?

Re:the axis (1)

pjbgravely (751384) | more than 3 years ago | (#37309312)

Wouldn't the copper atoms count as another molecule making it a 2 molecule motor?

Re:the axis (1)

rim_namor (2454342) | more than 3 years ago | (#37309338)

Metal atoms are not molecules, duuuuude. It's like, they are atoms, not molecules, you see? Molecules are groups of atoms that are bound together by covalent bonds you see? Atoms can be molecules, but it doesn't apply to metals, you see?

Liquid Crystals (4, Informative)

SMoynihan (1647997) | more than 3 years ago | (#37309272)

Liquid crystal molecules (e.g., the cyanobiphenyls with aliphatic tails which form E7) have lengths of ca. 2 nm. These definitely respond to external electric or magnetic fields to spin and reorient (otherwise, you'd likely be looking at a fairly boring screen right now...)

The novelty here is that the researchers have formed a pivot about which the structure rotates. Further, they seem to have overcome any electrostatic attraction to the surface which would act to lock the molecule in place.

Interesting stuff.

Nanosurgery? (1)

Tastecicles (1153671) | more than 3 years ago | (#37309290)

I'm thinking plasma pumps...

Re:Nanosurgery? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37310116)

I'm thinking reebok pumps. Go 80s!

Re:Nanosurgery? (2)

c0lo (1497653) | more than 3 years ago | (#37311276)

I'm thinking plasma pumps...

Nano my ass. The fucking abstract [nature.com] :

Electrons from a scanning tunnelling microscope are used to drive the directional motion of the molecule in a two-terminal setup.

When your motor "power delivery" mechanism looks this big [anl.gov] , your motor it's hardly a nano-device anymore.

Nanotechnology here we come! (5, Interesting)

ShooterNeo (555040) | more than 3 years ago | (#37309416)

Molecular manufacturing technology may be decades away, but things like this are enheartening to read about. Out of all of the possible technologies we might develop in the foreseeable future, molecular manufacturing nanotechnology is the most promising. (that we know are possible within the laws of physics...antigravity or free energy would be nice but we don't know of any physical principles that would allow them)

Essentially, "all" we have to do is develop a nanoscale machine that is made of gears and motor systems like this one and has sensors and electronics packages. It has to duplicate the functions of a 3d printer under extremely controlled conditions.

Limitations on the machine : conditions will need to be as predictable as humans can make them. That means cryogenic temperatures, a vacuum chamber, a steady and consistent power source, and a steady supply of completely pure feedstock to work with.

The machine's function would be to place a single atom in one of several possible locations, and/or to stabilize a structure with some kind of atomic clamp that injects or removes electric charge. Each machine would probably only be able to work in a single case...say a carbon atom in a single bonding scenario for one machine.

You'd build arrays of these machines, and with a few hundred variants of the machine (each one only slightly different than the others) you'd have a complete printing system able to print nearly any structure you have the atomic bonding map for, including COPIES OF THEMSELVES.

That last bit is everything. Nanotechnology is merely a hyper-expensive way to make high end electronics and other expensive items without self replication.

WITH it, the sky is the limit. With self replication, we could very soon make huge arrays of these 3d printers, big flat plates with trillions and trillions of individual, identical subunits. These machines could gradually produce, inside big vacuum chambers and at cryogenic temperatures, almost anything you have the resources and means to make.

All those kids who claim they want to help the unfortunate in Africa? We need this kind of technology to really make a dent in the world's problems. Anyone want to go to outer space? The only real way we could ever make rocket rides cheap enough for the average man is if building high end spacecraft was as easy as printing out the parts, with near complete automation (and the parts would be atomically near-perfect, eliminating the need for most quality control)

We could even use disposable rockets this way...just send out a tractor to pick up the spent stages, melt down the metals in a plasma furnace to separate the different elements, and reform the atomic feedstock you need to print out new spacecraft.

Want artificial intelligence? Ain't going to happen with today's software methods nor today's neuroscience. But if you could look at atomically perfect scans of a perfectly preserved human brain (through careful cryogenic freezing and fixation) you could actually steal the firmware of human intelligence right from the hardware. With automated tools, you'd convert neural maps of human beings you KNOW were sentient (before they died) and emulate them on molecular computing circuitry. It probably would still be an incredible challenge, but with these kinds of tools I think working AI would be merely a matter of time.

Tired of being born, growing up, enjoying a brief period of good health and sexual function, and then gradually declining decade after decade until death? In the long run, this same technology could be used to repair human bodies or even eliminate the need for them entirely.

Re:Nanotechnology here we come! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37309686)

Sounds like a universal constructor.

Re:Nanotechnology here we come! (1)

ShooterNeo (555040) | more than 3 years ago | (#37309950)

With limitations on the "universal" part. Aka the constructor takes a long time, is extremely slow for anything but thin and flat objects, uses a lot of energy, and can't work for certain molecular structures that are too unstable during construction. (although it could probably build another variant of itself that COULD handle special cases)

And said machine would only work on chemically different elements : it would not be able to distinguish between isotopes. So if you wanted to make a nuclear weapon from pitchblende you'd still need to do isotope separation first.

Oh, and don't forget it only makes solid objects and they must be made at cryogenic temperatures. Could you make food? Yes, but it better handle thawing well...

Re:Nanotechnology here we come! (1)

bryanandaimee (2454338) | more than 3 years ago | (#37309728)

OK Kurzweil, calm down. Yes, nanotech could in some version of future reality do some of the things you mention, but it is not a prerequisite. Outer space : Accessible by "average" people in the "near" future using near future materials tech via a space elevator. (wonder how that will get modded :) And the quality control is not the only thing that makes a rocket expensive. How about the tons of high strength materials and fuel. You still have to pay for raw materials even in a nanotech world. Africa: Hmm, "To go there, or not to go there, that is the question ..." If you could wave a magic wand and fix the social and political structure, (Hah! sidestepped that one :) then nanotech might be a help, but then so might widely available electricity/desalination from nuclear plants. You have to get by the first big IF statement. The worlds population is fed with electricity and oil almost as much as it is fed with sunlight and water. And why do you want to get rid of bodies? (Oh, right, forgot I was on Slashdot for a second)

Re:Nanotechnology here we come! (1)

ShooterNeo (555040) | more than 3 years ago | (#37309926)

I'm not Kurzweil. I don't think that his desired scenario is at all inevitable, and technical challenges may mean that it takes centuries to come about. (although once the full Singularity really started i don't see why it wouldn't reach the end-game conditions within a decade or two. )

And for fixing Africa and third world governments : the fix is to print millions of remotely controlled drone soldiers and invade and depose every government in the third world. Possibly at the same time. The only way you can stop the genocides and the mass starvations is to arrest or kill the people responsible for them.

Once that is done, you'd create vast, automated police states. Total surveillance everywhere, the police use robots heavily, everyone is being watched by software 24/7. Basic food and medicine would be extremely cheap.

One distopic possibility is that these societies truly could become prisons for all. With so many put out of work (since there would be very little need for factory workers, only designers of new equipment which only a small percentage of the population at any given time have the talent for) you might create vast bureaucracies and make a large percentage of the population cops to watch everyone else. If 20% of the population were cops, you really could have the 1984 scenario where everyone IS being watched all of the time. (when I say "watched", I mean there would be a person employed to watch every action taken by 5-10 other people who would know everything there is to know about them. It's not just that everything would be recorded by surveillance...someone would be checking the tapes)

But by eliminating most freedom, you would also eliminate most crime. At least crimes committed by the unwashed masses... Important people would have special privileges so that no one could surveil them.

Re:Nanotechnology here we come! (2)

bryanandaimee (2454338) | more than 3 years ago | (#37311358)

Wow, utopia to distopia in a few nanoseconds. Did you get whiplash? :) All I was saying is that while nanotech may someday fulfill the promise of ending scarcity, it is not the only solution. And I agree with your commentary about the negative effects of elimination of scarcity to a point. It could certainly descend into police state very quickly. If a very few can provide for the many then they can also control them.

The main point was that while certain tech may make some things inevitable, it's not really technology that is holding us back from accomplishing any of the things mentioned above. It is political and social will to accomplish them.

Re:Nanotechnology here we come! (1)

endymion.nz (1093595) | more than 3 years ago | (#37316708)

Ending scarcity is not likely to happen within our current economic model. Most goods are made scarce artificially to increase their value already.

Re:Nanotechnology here we come! (1)

ShooterNeo (555040) | more than 3 years ago | (#37326478)

I'd like to hear more about your ideas. What would we be able to accomplish if we had the "political and social will" to do so. My assumption about our reality is that human nature is unchanging because evolution is a glacially slow process. The reason why human societies change at all is driven by the new rules created by technology. The world we have now is better than before : longer lifespans, more toys, etc only because of technology. Even social reforms : elimination of slavery/civil rights were driven by technology.

Thus, I assume that given this hypothesis, long standing, near intractable problems that exist now : Africa, no real space travel, medical care too expensive and ineffective, running out of fossil fuels, climate change, and so forth can only be fixed if we substantially surpass our current technology.

Small incremental improvements to what we have are not going to be a sufficient driver of change. We'd need a huge breakthrough on the scale of atomic energy or greater to really make a dent.

 

Re:Nanotechnology here we come! (1)

bryanandaimee (2454338) | more than 3 years ago | (#37334750)

A space elevator is one technology that needs no huge breakthroughs. We are within an order of magnitude of the required materials science to produce such a thing. The main obstacle is will to do. Given funding and an Apollo type effort, this could be a reality soon, and allow "cheap" access to space.

Africa is mainly a political problem, so I doubt any amount of technology will affect the situation there much. Africa is so far behind current tech that advances here make very little difference there. But current nuclear/solar/other power sources could revolutionize Africa if the warlords ever went away.

As for slavery and civil rights being products of advancing tech, I would tend to disagree. I think it might have been facilitated by advancing tech, but the elimination of slavery was first and foremost a political/social solution. Tech just made up the difference once slavery was outlawed. Try to tell all the estimated 12 million present day slaves (Not talking US here) that modern technology has made slavery a thing of the past.

Current lifespan is due almost entirely to vaccination and sanitation. Neither of those is cutting edge tech. But a large advance in lifespan would have to be technological, not political or social. You have me there.

Medical care is expensive in large part because it is so effective. The more effective the treatment the more complex it tends to be. The higher the technological advancement of the product, the more expensive it tends to be, (computer chips being possibly the only long term exception)

We could solve the fossil fuel problem right now if we wanted to with nuclear power. Fusion would be nice but isn't required. Fission could power the world quite well for a very long time. Unfortunately the greens hate nuke, and you can't do anything in this world without their blessing.

Gross oversimplification here

Re:Nanotechnology here we come! (1)

ShooterNeo (555040) | more than 3 years ago | (#37335790)

I think the space elevator is a horrible engineering idea. I am not impressed by space elevator cultists. You are talking about thousands of miles of cable and that the entire system will fail if a single piece breaks anyone. Also, you beam all of the energy needed to reach orbit from the ground to the climber using lasers. The climber takes days to make 1 trip, preventing the elevator from being used for anything else during that time. A single missile, a single hit from a high energy weapon, and you lose 100% of your space elevator. This makes the correct answer freaking obvious : scale up your lasers a couple of orders of magnitude and blast off from the ground directly with their energy.

Africa : as I said, if we had the technology to force the warlords to disappear, we could stop it. We do not have that kind of technology : with today's military, we would have to take hundreds of thousands of soldiers killed in all the wars, more money than the USA can afford at all (even our big creditors would probably stop lending to the U.S. if we did something this stupid), and we would not gain enough control over africa to really prevent the deaths and murders much. (look at Iraq : more people died in the resulting disruption than died under Sadaam)

Obviously, with exponentially replicating manufacturing, we could make enough remotely controlled semi-automated soldier bots, armed with less than lethal weapons (no reason to kill the enemy if they cannot do more than force you to recycle a robot) to invade every country at once.

Slavery : the reason the North one was they had overwhelming advantages from the beginning in production and manpower. The South were idiots for even fighting.

It's a myth that hyper expensive medical care is more effective. The gains are extremely small, and in the USA as a whole, lifespans are actually shorter both due to misdistribution of resources (large numbers of people get almost no medical care at all) and poor lifestyles for the majority of the population.

Fossil fuels : we can't afford nuclear reactors not JUST because of the greens, but also because the manufacturing cost to build reactors is prohibitive. Problem, meet solution : if we could print atomically near perfect reactor parts in mass quantities, nuclear power plants would be cheap. And we could replace every part used in a reactor right on schedule rather than running the same facility for 50 years.

Re:Nanotechnology here we come! (1)

am 2k (217885) | more than 3 years ago | (#37312068)

That's awfully close to how DNA works... Every single nanobot would need to have an algorithmic description of the construction plan of the target device and would need to know how to replicate itself (mitosis). In the end, the bots wouldn't construct the device, they would be the device.

Instructions can be transmitted (1)

MrSteveSD (801820) | more than 3 years ago | (#37312740)

Every single nanobot would need to have an algorithmic description of the construction plan of the target device

This isn't necessary and is in fact a potentially dangerous design if you are considering grey goo. Numbered instructions can instead be transmitted to the assemblers on a continuously repeating loop. Aside from being safer, it simplifies the design of the assembler.

Re:Instructions can be transmitted (1)

am 2k (217885) | more than 3 years ago | (#37314160)

But for that, you'd need communications hardware on the nanobot, which would increase its size significantly. Of course it would be easier to do, de/encoding DNA is equally complicated and thus done by trail-and-error right now.

Re:Nanotechnology here we come! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37312478)

Makes me think of Prey by Michael Crichton...

Re:Nanotechnology here we come! (1)

renoX (11677) | more than 3 years ago | (#37313760)

Your nano-maker machine to be useful must only be
- very, very precise
- nearly flawless
- very energy efficient
- quick

It is possible of course (as proved by existence of complex biological entities) but it's going to be incredibly hard.

Re:Nanotechnology here we come! (1)

ShooterNeo (555040) | more than 3 years ago | (#37322236)

? It need not be energy efficient or quick, relatively speaking. Even a very slow machine that consumed a lot of energy would be incredibly useful. Precision has to be high enough for self replication to succeed at least some of the time, and the machine by definition IS flawless since every atom in the machine would have a purpose.

Stimulus money (1)

udachny (2454394) | more than 3 years ago | (#37309596)

Here is a great idea for stimulus and money well spent - put more money towards R&D, build moire atoms and molecules, whatever, will generate jobs, engineering, science. Stop wars and spend money on building. Infrastructure, science, universities, schools, engineers, molecules, anything to get the economy going in the right direction. With these electrical motors, who needs oil? Put more electrical motors all over the place, attach some solar cells and wind tunnels, get moving, fix the economy.

Re:Stimulus money (1)

c0lo (1497653) | more than 3 years ago | (#37311294)

With these electrical motors, who needs oil? Put more electrical motors all over the place, attach some solar cells and wind tunnels, get moving, fix the economy.

Don't forget the scanning tunnelling microscope [nature.com] to be used in driving each of the motors. Oh boy, building them will certainly fix the economy... even if it will only be the China's economy to be fixed.

Re:Stimulus money (1)

steeviant (677315) | more than 3 years ago | (#37316654)

Don't forget the scanning tunnelling microscope [nature.com] to be used in driving each of the motors. Oh boy, building them will certainly fix the economy... even if it will only be the China's economy to be fixed.

To be fair, I think the "scanning" and "microscope" are the expensive part of a STM, and not really necessary to drive a motor. There are all sorts of devices that can generate streams of electrons cheaply, though it's unclear what the requirements are to drive the motor - in the worst case, it may require something similar in complexity to a STM for precision and a supercomputer to do the job of aiming and timing the power source that's done by a human with a STM in this instance. In that case, it's going to be a while before this sees use in an actual nanoscale device.

1 nanometer? (1)

lehphyro (1465921) | more than 3 years ago | (#37309614)

Isn't there a nanofoot, imperial units users?

Re:1 nanometer? (2)

Mindcontrolled (1388007) | more than 3 years ago | (#37309800)

Nah, no way. You are not scaling imperial units by SI suffixes. You gotta define something more creative, like 36 toes in a foot, 17 toenails in a toe, 366,69 toenail clippings in a toenail and so on, until you arrive at nano scale.

Re:1 nanometer? (1)

bryanandaimee (2454338) | more than 3 years ago | (#37309824)

That's femtofurlongs you insensitive clod! Long live the empire! Down with rational metrics! May the inch be ever defined as the length of the current queen's nose and the foot be eternally defined as the length of her pinky times pi*. At least that way we can all understand what we're talking about.

*Except in times of war, or in cases of amputation, in which case it would be index finger times e. **

**Not to include artificial fingernails. ***

*** Except in cases of very short queens in which case carefully selected artificial fingernails may be used to allow a reasonable transition period.

Re:1 nanometer? (1)

steeviant (677315) | more than 3 years ago | (#37316704)

Isn't there a nanofoot, imperial units users?

Of course, it's 1/25400000th of an inch.

Video explaining the project (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37311006)

http://youtu.be/A5lVnTleSgs

The group also made a video trying to explain the project.

So they can build complex single molecules now? (1)

mark-t (151149) | more than 3 years ago | (#37312868)

How long until we see a General Products Hull?

Electric helicopters for fleas (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37313462)

;-)

Patrio (0)

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Omega (1)

sohmc (595388) | more than 3 years ago | (#37315626)

I'm pretty sure this is a Star Trek: Voyager episode [memory-alpha.org] . This should get the attention of the Borg.

Re:Omega (1)

inthealpine (1337881) | more than 3 years ago | (#37318666)

I was interested in this until I heard Voyager. That was such a horrible show the plot was set in the past so they could get it behind them as fast as they could.

not a one molecule motor (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37319960)

These guys built a rotor, not a motor, of molecular size. A motor also needs a stator and a commutation device in this case, as it is supposed to always turn in one direction, not "mostly" like this does. To be a motor, you have to include the tunneling microscope apparatus as its stator which blows their Guinness claims out of the water. What I also cannot believe is that they scammed their way into a peer reviewed journal with this joke.

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