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One-Molecule Nanocar Takes a Test Drive

samzenpus posted more than 2 years ago | from the take-a-spin-around-the-pin dept.

Science 51

MrSeb writes "Just a couple of months after nanoengineers at Tufts University developed an 18-atom single-molecule electric motor, researchers from the University of Twente in the Netherlands have gone one better: They've made a car using just a single molecule. To create the vehicle, Tibor Kudernac and colleagues crafted a molecule with a long body and four 'paddle' (wheel) features attached at each corner. The molecule was created with a bottom-up process, where each part of the molecule is gently slotted together. By applying tiny amounts of electricity with a scanning tunneling microscope (STM) to the finished vehicle, the wheels are forced to make a quarter turn. The wheels naturally take another quarter turn to restore equilibrium — and then the STM starts the process all over again. The end result is very slow forward movement — six nanometers per 10 electric pulses."

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51 comments

Cool (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38005652)

This is pointless, but cool.

Hardly. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38005726)

You honestly think advances in nanomachines are pointless?

Re:Hardly. (1)

Cryacin (657549) | more than 2 years ago | (#38006160)

Exactly. Think back to the invention of the LASER. Can you imagine an investor seeing a LASER and saying anything other than, "That's a pretty light, but what does it do?"

Re:Hardly. (1)

kermidge (2221646) | more than 2 years ago | (#38009374)

Which goes to show too few investors read good science fiction. Btw, MASER came first. Many in the field despaired for years from having a neat gizmo and no takers. I had laser-assisted surgery in '61 at Walter Reed, so at least I got some use out of it fairly early.

I look forward to nano-NASCAR races. What I really await are the various nanobots not yet built that'll clean the gunk out of my arteries and lungs, for starters.

Re:Hardly. (1)

justforgetme (1814588) | more than 2 years ago | (#38009682)

I look forward to nano-NASCAR races.

19th century nascar: driver in car in racetrack.
21st century nascar: car in racetrack in driver!

Re:Hardly. (1)

Trogre (513942) | more than 2 years ago | (#38017818)

It is a travesty that you were not modded up for that.

Re:Cool (3, Funny)

martin-boundary (547041) | more than 2 years ago | (#38005872)

This is pointless, but cool.

Not at all. Have you seen the parking fees in town lately? This product serves a real need. Now you can drive to work on a molecule, and keep it in your pocket during work hours. Moreover, it's eco-friendly. I'm told molecules run on electricity.

Re:Cool (3, Funny)

Inda (580031) | more than 2 years ago | (#38006496)

Someone will always want a bigger molecule. The longer, the better. Huge chains of atoms that demand more and more electric.

Why can't people be happy with what they've got?!?

Re:Cool (1)

bennomatic (691188) | more than 2 years ago | (#38005934)

Imagine roller skates that look like regular shoes, with millions of these things spread over what looks like a flat sole of the shoe.

Re:Cool (1)

sconeu (64226) | more than 2 years ago | (#38005964)

Where do you store the millions of STMs that you need to run them?

Re:Cool (2, Funny)

sexconker (1179573) | more than 2 years ago | (#38006132)

Where do you store the millions of STMs that you need to run them?

In the millions of molecular trunks, of course.

Re:Cool (1)

sconeu (64226) | more than 2 years ago | (#38006262)

I bow before your nano-awesomeness

Spoken like someone... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38006090)

...who didn't pay attention in school. How do you think today's tech started out long ago? With small breakthroughs like this. From medicine to technology, this is how yesterday's scientists started.

You know what, stick to your video games. You obviously have the mental intelligence of a child.

Not going to go anywhere (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38005682)

Electric cars are a fad. Jeremy Clarkson told me that.

Re:Not going to go anywhere (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38010568)

Electric cars are a fad. Jeremy Clarkson told me that.

He wont be saying that when a decent power solutions is found

3 phase electric motors have impressive torque and instant acceleration, they have the potential to outperform any combustion engine based vehicle. However he was right when reviewing the tesla... in his own little way. It's still not quite there, the engines are great, the batteries suck balls and are super expensive considering they are effectively a 5 year consumable. Plus any manufacturer who attempts to market them as zero emissions without providing an explicitly zero emission energy source completely looses my respect. Electric is the way forward but they shouldn't make blatant lies.

Re:Not going to go anywhere (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38012338)

They left out the part of the story where one of the researcher's girlfriends, who begged to drive it, managed to crash it on a carbon nanotube. Eh, women drivers... In her defense, the tube was extremely black and hard to avoid.

Where's my .. (1)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 2 years ago | (#38005686)

Single molecule nano hover car?

Re:Where's my .. (1)

rts008 (812749) | more than 2 years ago | (#38005982)

Stuck to your car keys. It's been there all along.
Can't you see it? ;-)

!(1 molecule 18 atoms) (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38005692)

1 molecule does not imply that it is less than 18 atoms. From looking at the fucking article I can see that they have used much more than 18 atoms. Fuck this shitpost.

Re:!(1 molecule 18 atoms) (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38005780)

1 molecule does not imply that it is less than 18 atoms. From looking at the fucking article I can see that they have used much more than 18 atoms. Fuck this shitpost.

You have zero reading comprehension skills. The summary said they "did one better" because it's an entire "car" from a single molecule, as opposed to just a "motor" from a single molecule.

Re:!(1 molecule 18 atoms) (2)

Lord Maud'Dib (611577) | more than 2 years ago | (#38005798)

The motor was indeed made from 18 atoms. It was butyl methyl sulfide. 13 + 4 + 1 = 18 atoms. The car just incorporated these molecules into a different larger molecule. Why the hate on nanomachines?

Re:!(1 molecule 18 atoms) (-1, Flamebait)

ElectricTurtle (1171201) | more than 2 years ago | (#38005808)

You failed at RTFS. It said the engine created by Tufts was 18 atoms, the 'car' created by Twente was not described by atom count in the summary. Fuck your shitpost.

Re:!(1 molecule 18 atoms) (1)

polymeris (902231) | more than 2 years ago | (#38005814)

Where does TFS say the "car" is made of less than 18 atoms?

It is pretty cool, IMO. Similar stuff has been done before [nature.com] , but I didn't know of any cars where the wheels actually provide the propulsion. Then again, I am no expert in the field, by far.

Great news (1)

Tastecicles (1153671) | more than 2 years ago | (#38005722)

...for really short people.

Re:Great news (1)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 2 years ago | (#38005772)

...for really short people.

Expecting the Monday follow-up "Nano People" article? That woule really excite some people.

Tuft's University also introduced the first nano car program for public safety - the Nano Tufty Club

Re:Great news (1)

Tastecicles (1153671) | more than 2 years ago | (#38006064)

mechanically it'd be doable. I don't think so much on the DNA or neural level. How much of the so-called "junk" DNA is actually junk? Just the bits that haven't been patented yet? As for nervous tissue: it is estimated that less than 4% of the brain is actually used in the most genius of us, but what of the rest? What is it actually used for if not mechanical control, thought processes, storage, etc? We just don't know, ergo we don't know how much we can prune before we make the transition from Homo sapiens to Cyanea capillata.

Re:Great news (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38006422)

The thing with 4% (7%,8%,9%,10%) brain usage is a 70's myth.

Re:Great news (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38016384)

The rest of the brain is for storing penguins.

Re:Great news (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38005938)

This is what its going to come to in metopolitain places like, say, SF, where I am. Those tiny smart cars are all the rage. I can't wait for Ed Lee to make use of these cars law or something.

Attach a three atom knife to it (1)

Med-trump (2195662) | more than 2 years ago | (#38005762)

Attach a three atom knife to it with a suture gadget and send right into the heart for a by-pass

Re:Attach a three atom knife to it (1)

Baloroth (2370816) | more than 2 years ago | (#38005898)

Might be a little hard to fit the STM in there too.

Re:Attach a three atom knife to it (1)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 2 years ago | (#38005910)

Attach a three atom knife to it with a suture gadget and send right into the heart for a by-pass

While the car may be small, the means to control it may be considerably larger (still no problem for even the tiniest capillary) but what are the body's defences to make of these tiny hoards roving aroun inside you?

Re:Attach a three atom knife to it (1)

jamiesan (715069) | more than 2 years ago | (#38012094)

And then two, 4 atom machine guns, and we can have Micro Death Race 2100!

It's euthanasia day in the Lymph nodes!

Nature letter (3, Informative)

polymeris (902231) | more than 2 years ago | (#38005846)

I think this is the actual article [nature.com] (paywalled), in case anyone else is wondering about the details & has access to the journal.

One-Molecule Nanocar Takes a Test Drive (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38005860)

> "The end result is very slow forward movement — six nanometers per 10 electric pulses."

But how does it handle?

Re:One-Molecule Nanocar Takes a Test Drive (1)

jamiesan (715069) | more than 2 years ago | (#38012176)

It can turn on a gene.

"Six nanometers per 10 electric pulses." (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38006192)

Sounds like my morning commute.

Awesome efficiency...time for the government (0, Troll)

gsgriffin (1195771) | more than 2 years ago | (#38006256)

to fund this little gem. Let's see. It used 7 Kilowatts to build (all of the power consumed in the labs) and a team of expensive researcher months to figure out. Should be the most expensive car per ounce ever built. Hey, Feds, send over our borrowed money to lend to these guys. This could be the next big wave in green technology....it runs on electricity, right?

Re:Awesome efficiency...time for the government (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38006766)

That's too inefficient for most parts of the government to handle. Better give it to the military.

How many nano-Volkswagens is it? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38006310)

How many nano-Volkswagens is it?

Mini Car sketch (1)

drumlight (1244276) | more than 2 years ago | (#38006448)

This is one of the least offensive sketches from Jam but it still contains bad language and is NSFW.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AzquCGpuIsQ [youtube.com]

The actual show is probably Not Safe for Decent People but is awesome if you have a deviant sense of humor and can find a suitable time to laugh.

Does it fly? (1)

SnarfQuest (469614) | more than 2 years ago | (#38006512)

I'm still waiting for my flying car, so does this thing fly?

Countdown... 3... 2... 1... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38006922)

until the "3D printing" crowd claims this is "JUST LIKE 3D printing in other words"? Come on you liars, show yourselves! I'm watching!

You can't use the ultimate car analogy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38008516)

until someone converts six nanometers per 10 electric pulses to miles per gallon.
  (Also I'm pretty sure an e.p. is not an SI unit, so don't start that crap again!)

An STM to drive the wheels? (1)

Hartree (191324) | more than 2 years ago | (#38008530)

You mean they make a cool high tech nanocar but you still have to get out and push?

Bummer!

Re:An STM to drive the wheels? (1)

neonKow (1239288) | more than 2 years ago | (#38011892)

They couldn't afford to buy nano-gas.

Slow down! (1)

ThatsNotPudding (1045640) | more than 2 years ago | (#38011118)

...six nanometers per 10 electric pulses.

"You're driving like a bat out of Hades! You're gonna get us all killed!"

Next trend (1)

cribster (1743126) | more than 2 years ago | (#38011904)

Sounds faster and more powerful than a Prius although seating may be difficult.

Really? (1)

hesaigo999ca (786966) | more than 2 years ago | (#38012092)

Come on, at one cell organism, it must have been shaped like a car, to come up with that crappy headline....seriously?

Top Atom (1)

xupere (1680472) | more than 2 years ago | (#38014214)

I'm not going to get excited about this until I see it reviewed on Top Gear. I bet the Stig could get it up to at least 9 nanometers per 10 electric pulses.

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