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Home > Press > Rice to enter first international nanocar race: Five teams will participate in October 2016 event in France

An illustration shows a nanocar design by scientists at Rice University. The first nanocars, invented at Rice, consisted of a chassis, two axles and four wheels, all part of a single molecule.Credit: Tour Group/Rice Universit
An illustration shows a nanocar design by scientists at Rice University. The first nanocars, invented at Rice, consisted of a chassis, two axles and four wheels, all part of a single molecule.

Credit: Tour Group/Rice Universit

Abstract:
Ladies and gentlemen, start your nanoengines. Rice University will send an entry to the first international NanoCar Race, which will be held next October at Pico-Lab CEMES-CNRS in Toulouse, France.


NanoCar Race, the first-ever race of molecule-cars by CNRS-en

Rice to enter first international nanocar race: Five teams will participate in October 2016 event in France

Houston, TX | Posted on December 15th, 2015

Nobody will see this miniature grand prix, at least not directly. But cars from five teams, including a collaborative effort by the Rice lab of chemist James Tour and scientists at the University of Graz, Austria, will be viewable through sophisticated microscopes developed for the event.

Time trials will determine which nanocar is the fastest, though there may be head-to-head races with up to four cars on the track at once, according to organizers.

A nanocar is a single-molecule vehicle of 100 or so atoms that incorporates a chassis, axles and freely rotating wheels. Each of the entries will be propelled across a custom-built gold surface by an electric current supplied by the tip of a scanning electron microscope. The track will be cold at 5 kelvins (minus 450 degrees Fahrenheit) and in a vacuum.

Rice's entry will be a new model and the latest in a line that began when Tour and his team built the world's first nanocar more than 10 years ago.

"It's challenging because, first of all, we have to design a car that can be manipulated on that specific surface," Tour said. "Then we have to figure out the driving techniques that are appropriate for that car. But we'll be ready."

Victor Garcia, a graduate student at Rice, is building what Tour called his group's Model 1, which will be driven by members of Professor Leonhard Grill's group at Graz. The labs are collaborating to optimize the design.

The races are being organized by the Center for Materials Elaboration and Structural Studies (CEMES) of the French National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS).

The race was first proposed in a 2013 ACS Nano paper by Christian Joachim, a senior researcher at CNRS, and Gwénaël Rapenne, a professor at Paul Sabatier University.

Joining Rice are teams from Ohio University; Dresden University of Technology; the National Institute for Materials Science, Tsukuba, Japan; and Paul Sabatier.

Tour is the T.T. and W.F. Chao Chair in Chemistry as well as a professor of computer science and of materials science and nanoengineering.

####

About Rice University
Located on a 300-acre forested campus in Houston, Rice University is consistently ranked among the nation’s top 20 universities by U.S. News & World Report. Rice has highly respected schools of Architecture, Business, Continuing Studies, Engineering, Humanities, Music, Natural Sciences and Social Sciences and is home to the Baker Institute for Public Policy. With 3,888 undergraduates and 2,610 graduate students, Rice’s undergraduate student-to-faculty ratio is 6-to-1. Its residential college system builds close-knit communities and lifelong friendships, just one reason why Rice is ranked No. 1 for best quality of life and for lots of race/class interaction by the Princeton Review. Rice is also rated as a best value among private universities by Kiplinger’s Personal Finance.

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Contacts:
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