World’s Smallest Working Gears

World’s Smallest Working Gears

World's Smallest Working Gears recognised by Guinness Records

Scientists from A*STAR’s Institute of Materials Research and Engineering have invented a molecular gear of the size of 1.2nm whose rotation can be deliberately controlled. The research opens the way for the future development of molecule-sized machines that may lead to innovations like pocket-sized supercomputers, miniature energy harvesting devices and data computing on atomic scale electronic circuits.

Said Prof Christian Joachim who led the team, “Making a gear the size of a few atoms is one thing, but being able to deliberately control its motions and actions is something else altogether. What we’ve done at IMRE is to create a truly complete working gear that will be the fundamental piece in creating more complex molecular machines that are no bigger than a grain of sand.”

Before the team’s discovery, motions of molecular rotors and gears were random and typically consisted of a mix of rotation and lateral displacement. The scientists at IMRE solved this scientific conundrum by proving that the rotation of the molecule-gear could be well controlled by manipulating the electrical connection between the molecule and the tip of a Scanning Tunnelling Microscope while it was pinned on an atom axis.

The research was published in 2009 but will be included in the 2012 edition of Guinness World Records.

http://www.imre.a-star.edu.sg/pressreleases.php?prid=Z534D536

Singapore Scientists Create World’s Smallest Gear by NewsLook

(photos from IMRE)

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