Electric Motor the Size of a Molecule

Guest_Jim_* - September 6, 2011 09:46AM in Science & Technology

Nanoscale motors have been made before, but there have not been any a single nanometer wide and using electricity for power. Researchers at Tufts University have created just such a motor; comprised of sulfur, carbon, and hydrogen. The carbon and hydrogen are like arms coming off the sulfur base. To test the motor they set it on a sheet of copper and used a low-temperature scanning tunneling microscope (one of about 100 in the US) to observe and provide power. The sulfur bonded with the copper and the arms were free to rotate around that axis. The experiment was done at 5 K to make sure the rotations were viewable, as at higher temperatures the motor spins faster. Future work on this motor will be focused on understanding the relationship of temperature and speed to enable real-world applications.