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Molecule gears up

Researchers construct a tiny version of the most basic component of a machine.

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4:13pm, June 22, 2009

A single snowflake-shaped molecule atop a gold sheet can turn like a gear. By building this most basic component of a machine, researchers reporting in an upcoming Nature Materials have created a building block for complex miniature devices.

“This is another cog in the wheel for the development of molecular machines,” says James Tour, a chemist at Rice University in Houston.

Carlos Manzano of the Institute of Materials Research and Engineering in Singapore and his colleagues built the gear out of hexa-t-butyl-pyrimidopentaphenylbenzene, which has a central core with six rings jutting out and is only nanometers wide. One of the six rings differ

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