Volume 95 Issue 23 | p. 6 | News of The Week
Issue Date: June 5, 2017 | Web Date: June 1, 2017

Molecular motor turns rotor

Tiny machine synchronizes the motion of its two moving parts
Department: Science & Technology
Keywords: molecular machines, motor, rotor
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The Feringa lab’s newest molecular machine features a motor that turns a covalently attached rotor.
Credit: Adapted from Science
The structure of Feringa’s new motor-rotor machine and a schematic showing its movement.
 
The Feringa lab’s newest molecular machine features a motor that turns a covalently attached rotor.
Credit: Adapted from Science

Gearing up to make even more complex molecular machines, chemists at the University of Groningen have created a molecular motor coupled to a rotor. The motor turns the attached rotor such that the two components’ motions are synchronized, just like that of machines we encounter in everyday life (Science 2017, DOI: 10.1126/science.aam8808).

“This is fundamental research about how to control motion at the molecular level and how then to use it to synchronize motion and amplify motion,” says Ben L. Feringa, who led the Groningen team.

In a commentary that accompanies the paper, University of Bologna chemists and molecular machine makers Massimo Baroncini and Alberto Credi note that the motor-rotor combo “takes an important step forward toward more complex mechanical functions with artificial nanoscale devices.”

A unidirectional molecular motor and attached rotor turn in synchronized motion
Credit: Science
A unidirectional molecular motor and attached rotor turn in synchronized motion
Credit: Science

The unidirectional motor consists of a fluor­enyl unit attached to an indanyl group via a double bond. The system’s naphthyl rotor is covalently attached to the indanyl half of the motor. When illuminated, the motor’s double bond isomerizes, setting the system into motion. As the motor turns, the naphthyl rotor paddle slides alongside the fluorenyl unit so that the rotor is always facing the motor with the same side—a feat the group accomplished with a complex stereochemical design. Both nuclear magnetic resonance and circular dichroism spectroscopy confirmed this synchronized motion.

It was a delicate balance to achieve the desired movement, Feringa notes. “We had to induce motion, we had to couple motion, and we had to prevent free rotation of the rotor; otherwise we could not have synchronized rotation,” he says.

Next, Feringa’s group would like to create machines that can amplify the molecular machines’ motion to larger movements or transmit motion over longer distances.

 
Chemical & Engineering News
ISSN 0009-2347
Copyright © American Chemical Society
Comments
E.CHINNARAJA  (Fri Jun 02 11:12:43 EDT 2017)
It's great achievement, congratulations to feringa lab's team.
QAISAR KHAN (Fri Jun 02 11:24:44 EDT 2017)
brilliant
prasath (Fri Jun 02 16:04:16 EDT 2017)
Excellent research contirbution to realise molecular level also which implies new era of science and robatic chemi machine will be near future...congrats to all scientist...
Taye BD (Fri Jun 02 17:18:00 EDT 2017)
Wow, they are showing us fascinating science! Thank you and congratulations!
Aejaz ul Bashir (Fri Jun 02 23:21:07 EDT 2017)
it is a best step taken towards new the mysteric world .....we can achieve alot through this ......
PROF.ASHIS SARKAR (Sat Jun 03 04:37:29 EDT 2017)
It is an extraordinary feat.Unparallal original thinking.Being an organic streochemist I am extremely happy that the concept of stereochemistry has been applied.
Dr. Abhijit  (Sat Jun 03 07:19:31 EDT 2017)
This is really a great achievement... Good to see that things that were once part of science fiction are actually happening!
Kaushik Bhalala  (Sat Jun 03 10:34:22 EDT 2017)
What are application of it?
Dan A Lerner (Fri Jun 09 03:15:50 EDT 2017)
Superb control of stereochemical degrees of freedom of a nanomotor involving the coupling of thermal and photochemical activation processes
Carlos García (Fri Jun 09 07:04:44 EDT 2017)
Brilliant. How could it be even smaller? Great job. Chemobotics has a rotating actuator

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