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April 24th, 2006
Nano machine switches between biological and silicon worlds
Scientists have created a molecular switch that could play a key role in thousands of nanotech applications. The Mol-Switch project successfully developed a demonstrator to prove the principle, despite deep scepticism from specialist colleagues in biotechnology and biophysics.
"Frankly, some researchers didn't think what we were attempting was possible because standard descriptions in physics, for example the Stokes equation for viscosity indicated that the system might not work. But viscous forces do not apply at the nano-scale," says Dr Keith Firman, Reader in Molecular Biotechnology at Portsmouth University and coordinator of the Mol-Switch project. The number of potential applications is staggering. They can be used for flow-control valves, pumps, positioning drives, motors, switches, relays and biosensors.
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