Measuring as the size of one molecule, researchers have reported in Nature Nanotechnology that they have made the smallest electric motor on earth.
The itsy bitsy motor could make quite a statement in medicinal and nanotechnology fields, and could put tiny amounts of energy to good use. While tiny rotors the size of a single molecule have been shown before, this is the first electric motor of this size that runs with an electric current.
The miniature motor uses butyl methyl sulphide and was placed on a copper surface where the sulphur atom worked as a pivot. The tip of a scanning tunnelling microscope was used to send an electrical charge into the motor and take photos of the molecule as it spun.
The motor spins in both directions as fast as 120 revolutions per second.
Slight modifications to the molecule can generate microwave radiation, or combine them into nano-electromechanical systems. These tiny molecule motors can be used to link up miniature mechanical devices, for example, to control delivery of drugs where medicine is needed to target specific locations.
Dr. Charles Sykes, a chemist at Tufts University, is taking the progress of his mini motor one step at a time, and looking to get it into the Guinness Book of World Records.