By developing a novel way to make molecules assemble themselves, researchers may
have opened a new route to microscopic devices, including nanoscale electronics.
Like Tinkertoys or Lincoln Logs, the molecules connect to each other only at
certain points. As a result, the molecules build into predictable shapes.
"We believe that this is a breakthrough for advancing
molecular nanotechnology," says Takashi Yokoyama of the National Institute for
Materials Science in Nagoya, Japan. Yokoyama and his coworkers report the work in
the Oct. 11 Nature.
To make their molecular structures, the researchers tailored molecules, called
porphyrins, by adding a chemical appendage to one or more of four possible