ADVERTISEMENT
2 /3 FREE ARTICLES LEFT THIS MONTH Remaining
Chemistry matters. Join us to get the news you need.

If you have an ACS member number, please enter it here so we can link this account to your membership. (optional)

ACS values your privacy. By submitting your information, you are gaining access to C&EN and subscribing to our weekly newsletter. We use the information you provide to make your reading experience better, and we will never sell your data to third party members.

ENJOY UNLIMITED ACCES TO C&EN

Analytical Chemistry

Molecular Electric Motor Unveiled

by Stu Borman
September 12, 2011 | APPEARED IN VOLUME 89, ISSUE 37

Spin System
[+]Enlarge
Credit: Courtesy of Charles Sykes
Electric current from STM tip (top) drives rotation of asymmetric organic molecule adsorbed to a copper surface (red).
08937-scicon-sykesmotorcxd.jpg
Credit: Courtesy of Charles Sykes
Electric current from STM tip (top) drives rotation of asymmetric organic molecule adsorbed to a copper surface (red).

The future of nanotech devices looks brighter now that single-molecule electric motors have been developed by chemists at Tufts University. Molecular motors powered by light and chemical reactions have been made before, but no electrically driven ones had been devised, despite theoretical predictions that such devices would be feasible. Charles Sykes and coworkers developed their single-molecule electric motor by using electrons from the asymmetric tip of a low-temperature scanning tunneling microscope (STM) to drive rotation of an asymmetric butyl methyl sulfide molecule adsorbed on a copper surface at 5 K (Nat. Nanotechnol., DOI: 10.1038/nnano.2011.142). Although the rotation is in both directions and thus has some randomness to it, there is a slight preference for one direction over the other, making it possible for the motor to perform useful work. Sykes’s group confirmed the preferential motion by using STM to monitor each rotational event in real time. Herre S. J. van der Zant of Delft University of Technology, in the Netherlands, comments that the work is “a fundamental study aimed at understanding how to drive and measure motion at a nanometer scale. Practical applications are still far away but may involve lab-on-a-chip products.”

X

Article:

This article has been sent to the following recipient:

Leave A Comment

*Required to comment