Self-Assembling Nanoparticles Move Like Tiny Gears

Researchers funded by the US Air Force have been working with silver lattices—alternating layers of crystalline silver nanoparticle clusters and an organic buffer material. The researchers noticed that when the materials self-assembled, there was a mechanical action; the particle structures rotated like very tiny gear.


(Pressure moves molecular gears video)

"As we squeeze on this material, it gets softer and softer and suddenly experiences a dramatic change," said Uzi Landman, of the Georgia Institute of Technology. "When we look at the orientation of the microscopic structure of the crystal in the region of this transition, we see that something very unusual happens. The structures start to rotate with respect to one another, creating a molecular machine with some of the smallest moving elements ever observed." In each layer of the superlattice, those gears move in opposite directions to each other, and when pressure is taken again removed from the material, researchers found that these gears return to their original positions.

The gear motion is the result of the particular self-assembly process of the material. "Self-assembly" here is maybe not all that you expect; the material is not some from-scratch autonomous creation. Rather, the material is begun as a solution of molecules with a predisposition for bonding with each other at particular angles via hydrogen atoms/hydrogen bonds.

Science fiction author Philip K. Dick is arguably the first person to describe self-assembling nanomachines. In his 1955 short story Autofac, Dick described an automated factory that had the capacity to reproduce itself by shooting tiny pellets full of nanomachines into the distance:

The cylinder had split. At first he couldn't tell if it had been the impact or deliberate internal mechanisms at work. From the rent, an ooze of metal bits was sliding. Squatting down, O'Neill examined them.

The bits were in motion. Microscopic machinery, smaller than ants, smaller than pins, working energetically, purposefully - constructing something that looked like a tiny rectangle of steel.

"They're building," O'Neill said, awed...
(Read more about Philip K. Dick's autofac)

I'd also add a reference to a more structured version of this idea, the Robot Cells (Crystal-Shaped Modules) from 1987 work by Michael P. Kube-McDowell.

From Vice and Hydrogen-bonded structure and mechanical chiral response of a silver nanoparticle superlattice via Frolix_8 Hydrogen-bonded structure and mechanical chiral response of a silver nanoparticle superlattice

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 4/6/2014)

Follow this kind of news @Technovelgy.

| Email | RSS | Blog It | Stumble | del.icio.us | Digg | Reddit |

Would you like to contribute a story tip? It's easy:
Get the URL of the story, and the related sf author, and add it here.

Comment/Join discussion ( 0 )

Related News Stories - (" Engineering ")

Turing's Nose - Was That Scent Real Or Artificial?
'Rippling arpeggios of thyme and lavender...' - Aldous Huxley, 1932.

Cost Effective Smart Windows To Replace Curtains?
'The polawindow, which he tuned to clear transmission.' - Frank Herbert, 1972.

Autonomous Tractor Harvest-Ready
'[He] dropped the handles of the plough that was plugged into the robomule...' - Harry Harrison, 1965.

AgileQuad Object Avoidance Drone
Perfect for forest moons.

 

Google
  Web TechNovelgy.com   

Technovelgy (that's tech-novel-gee!) is devoted to the creative science inventions and ideas of sf authors. Look for the Invention Category that interests you, the Glossary, the Invention Timeline, or see what's New.

 

 

 

 

 

Current News

Walmart Shopping Cart Robots Will Follow You
'...the machine would carry his bag in its soft plastic jaws...'

DoNotPay Lawyer Program Contests Parking Tickets
'I want my lawyer program.'

City Made Of Bone
'The cheapest building material known...'

SpotMini Robot Pierson's Puppeteer-Style
Now they're kind of cute, right?

Brick By Brick, Building Martian Bases
Don't try to boost everything from the surface of the Earth.

Elon Musk et. al. OpenAI Household Robot
'Any work a human being does around a house.'

BRUISE Smart Injury Detection Suit
'... Bee could see that three of them were disabled and two of them damaged.'

Tesla Model S Is Also A Boat (Sort Of)
'This Dick Dare contraption of yours...'

Promobot, The Runaway Russian Robot!
'Got yourself a runaway, Jack?'

Rowbot Small Autonomous Farm Robot
'...The tiny red glints of self-guided tractors.'

Amazon's Alexa To Recognize Emotions
Oh, Hal understood their emotions, all right.

Cool 'Single-Person Spaceships' Have Better SF Name
'A cabin so small, you couldn't stand up with the air lock closed..'

First Robot Suicide Has Science Fiction Roots
'What had happened to prevent my death?'

First US Clinical Trial For Wearable Artificial Kidney
'Wholly mechanical organs...'

Open Bionics To Produce Deus Ex Prosthetic Designs
Be a part of a science fictional future.

Human-Carrying Drone Taxi 184 Approved For Test Flights
'The cab was an egg-shaped bubble...'

More SF in the News Stories

More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories

Home | Glossary | Invention Timeline | Category | New | Contact Us | FAQ | Advertise |
Technovelgy.com - where science meets fiction™

Copyright© Technovelgy LLC; all rights reserved.