Nanotechnology Now

Our NanoNews Digest Sponsors


Heifer International

Wikipedia Affiliate Button


DHgate

Home > Press > Great expectations: When will artificial molecular machines start working for us?

Abstract:
Physicist Richard Feynman in his famous 1959 talk, "Plenty of Room at the Bottom," described the precise control at the atomic level promised by molecular machines of the future. More than 50 years later, synthetic molecular switches are a dime a dozen, but synthetically designed molecular machines are few and far between.

Great expectations: When will artificial molecular machines start working for us?

Chicago, IL | Posted on November 26th, 2011

Northwestern University chemists recently teamed up with a University of Maine physicist to explore the question, "Can artificial molecular machines deliver on their promise?" Their provocative analysis provides a roadmap outlining future challenges that must be met before full realization of the extraordinary promise of synthetic molecular machines can be achieved.

The tutorial review will be published Nov. 25 by the journal Chemical Society Reviews.

The senior authors are Sir Fraser Stoddart, Board of Trustees Professor of Chemistry, and Bartosz A. Grzybowski, the K. Burgess Professor of Physical Chemistry, both in Northwestern's Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences, and Dean Astumian, professor of physics at the University of Maine. (Grzybowski is also professor of chemical and biological engineering in the McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science.)

One might ask, what is the difference between a switch and a machine at the level of a molecule? It all comes down to the molecule doing work.

"A simplistic analogy of an artificial molecular switch is the piston in a car engine while idling," explains Ali Coskun, lead author of the paper and a postdoctoral fellow in Stoddart's laboratory. "The piston continually switches between up and down, but the car doesn't go anywhere. Until the pistons are connected to a crankshaft that, in turn, makes the car's wheels turn, the switching of the pistons only wastes energy without doing useful work."

Astumian points out that this analogy only takes us part of the way to understanding molecular machines. "All nanometer-scale machines are subject to continual bombardment by the molecules in their environment giving rise to what is called 'thermal noise,'" he cautions. "Attempts to mimic macroscopic approaches to achieve precisely controlled machines by minimizing the effects of thermal noise have not been notably successful."

Scientists currently are focused on a chemical approach where thermal noise is exploited for constructive purposes. Thermal "activation" is almost certainly at the heart of the mechanisms by which biomolecular machines in our cells carry out the essential tasks of metabolism. "At the nanometer scale of single molecules, harnessing energy is as much about preventing unwanted, backward motion as it is about causing forward motion," Astumian says.

In order to fulfill their great promise, artificial molecular machines need to operate at all scales. A single molecular switch interfaced to its environment can do useful work only on its own tiny scale, perhaps by assembling small molecules into chemical products of great complexity. But what about performing tasks in the macroscopic world?

To achieve this goal, "there is a need to organize the molecular switches spatially and temporally, just as in nature," Stoddart explains. He suggests that "metal-organic frameworks may hold the key to this particular challenge on account of their robust yet highly integrated architectures."

What is really encouraging is the remarkable energy-conversion efficiency of artificial molecular machines to perform useful work that can be greater than 75 percent. This efficiency is quite spectacular when compared to the efficiency of typical car engines, which convert only 20 to 30 percent of the chemical energy of gasoline into mechanical work, or even of the most efficient diesel engines with efficiencies of 50 percent.

"The reason for this high efficiency is that chemical energy can be converted directly into mechanical work, without having to be first converted into heat," Grzybowski says. "The possible uses of artificial molecular machines raise expectations expressed in the fact that the first person to create a nanoscale robotic arm, which shows precise positional control of matter at the nanoscale, can claim Feynman's Grand Prize of $250,000."

The title of the paper is "Great Expectations: Can Artificial Molecular Machines Deliver on Their Promise?" In addition to Stoddart, Grzybowski, Coskun and Astumian, the other co-author of the paper is Michal Banaszak from Adam Mickiewicz University, Poland.

####

For more information, please click here

Contacts:
Megan Fellman

847-491-3115

Copyright © Northwestern University

If you have a comment, please Contact us.

Issuers of news releases, not 7th Wave, Inc. or Nanotechnology Now, are solely responsible for the accuracy of the content.

Bookmark:
Delicious Digg Newsvine Google Yahoo Reddit Magnoliacom Furl Facebook

Related News Press

News and information

Oxford Instruments Asylum Research and McGill University Announce the McGill AFM Summer School and Workshop, May 12-13, 2016 May 4th, 2016

The intermediates in a chemical reaction photographed 'red-handed' Researchers at the UPV/EHU-University of the Basque Country have for the first time succeeded in imaging all the steps in a complex organic reaction and have resolved the mechanisms that explain it May 4th, 2016

New tool allows scientists to visualize 'nanoscale' processes May 4th, 2016

Chemistry

The intermediates in a chemical reaction photographed 'red-handed' Researchers at the UPV/EHU-University of the Basque Country have for the first time succeeded in imaging all the steps in a complex organic reaction and have resolved the mechanisms that explain it May 4th, 2016

New tool allows scientists to visualize 'nanoscale' processes May 4th, 2016

Possible Futures

The intermediates in a chemical reaction photographed 'red-handed' Researchers at the UPV/EHU-University of the Basque Country have for the first time succeeded in imaging all the steps in a complex organic reaction and have resolved the mechanisms that explain it May 4th, 2016

New tool allows scientists to visualize 'nanoscale' processes May 4th, 2016

Little ANTs: Researchers build the world's tiniest engine May 3rd, 2016

An Experiment Seeks to Make Quantum Physics Visible to the Naked Eye May 3rd, 2016

Molecular Machines

Little ANTs: Researchers build the world's tiniest engine May 3rd, 2016

Researchers create artificial protein to control assembly of buckyballs April 27th, 2016

Physicists build engine consisting of one atom: World's smallest heat engine uses just a single particle April 17th, 2016

Revealing the fluctuations of flexible DNA in 3-D: First-of-their-kind images by Berkeley Lab-led research team could aid in use of DNA to build nanoscale devices March 31st, 2016

Announcements

Oxford Instruments Asylum Research and McGill University Announce the McGill AFM Summer School and Workshop, May 12-13, 2016 May 4th, 2016

The intermediates in a chemical reaction photographed 'red-handed' Researchers at the UPV/EHU-University of the Basque Country have for the first time succeeded in imaging all the steps in a complex organic reaction and have resolved the mechanisms that explain it May 4th, 2016

New tool allows scientists to visualize 'nanoscale' processes May 4th, 2016

FEI Launches Apreo Industry-Leading Versatile, High-Performance SEM: The Apreo SEM provides high-resolution surface information with excellent contrast, and the flexibility to accommodate a large range of samples, applications and conditions May 4th, 2016

Grants/Awards/Scholarships/Gifts/Contests/Honors/Records

A compact, efficient single photon source that operates at ambient temperatures on a chip: Highly directional single photon source concept is expected to lead to a significant progress in producing compact, cheap, and efficient sources of quantum information bits for future appls May 3rd, 2016

An Experiment Seeks to Make Quantum Physics Visible to the Naked Eye May 3rd, 2016

Brookhaven's Oleg Gang Named a Battelle 'Inventor of the Year': Recognized for work using DNA to guide and regulate the self-assembly of nanoparticles into clusters and arrays with controllable properties April 25th, 2016

Zip software can detect the quantum-classical boundary: Compression of experimental data reveals the presence of quantum correlations April 21st, 2016

Research partnerships

The intermediates in a chemical reaction photographed 'red-handed' Researchers at the UPV/EHU-University of the Basque Country have for the first time succeeded in imaging all the steps in a complex organic reaction and have resolved the mechanisms that explain it May 4th, 2016

Making invisible physics visible: The Jayich Lab has created a new sensor technology that captures nanoscale images with high spatial resolution and sensitivity May 2nd, 2016

Cooling graphene-based film close to pilot-scale production April 30th, 2016

Personal cooling units on the horizon April 29th, 2016

NanoNews-Digest
The latest news from around the world, FREE




  Premium Products
NanoNews-Custom
Only the news you want to read!
 Learn More
NanoTech-Transfer
University Technology Transfer & Patents
 Learn More
NanoStrategies
Full-service, expert consulting
 Learn More











ASP
Nanotechnology Now Featured Books




NNN

The Hunger Project







Car Brands
Buy website traffic