Minimotor: Single molecule does some work

11:30am, May 8, 2002

Scientists have coerced a single molecule to act as a tiny, light-powered motor. The molecule, which stretches and contracts when exposed to light, performed mechanical work that can be harnessed, researchers report.

The achievement is another step toward the construction of nanoscale machines, says Hermann E. Gaub of the Center for Nanoscience at Ludwig-Maximilians University in Munich. Nanoscale motors, as well as levers, pumps, valves, and other minuscule parts, might be used someday in tiny laboratories-on-a-chip or other devices, says Gaub, who with his German colleagues reports the work in the May 10 Science.

"This report is an important milestone along the path to making nanomachines that we can control externally," comments Paul Hansma of the University of California, Santa Barbara.

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