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 |
you like to contribute a story tip?
Get the URL of the story, and the related sf author, and add
Comment/Join discussion ( 0 )
Related News Stories -
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.
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.
Turing's Nose - Was That Scent Real Or Artificial?
'Rippling arpeggios of thyme and lavender...'
Xian'er Buddhist Monk Robot
'Getting to his feet he crossed the waiting room to the Padre booth...'
AnBot Security Robot WILL Tase You, Bro
Michael Crichton right again.
Hover Camera - Unfold Drone, Shoot Selfie
'He set his camera to follow him...'
A Baker's Dozen Of Autonomous Car-Related Revolutions
'Old people began to cross the continent in their own cars.'
Would You Date A Robot? 1 in 4 Say 'Yes'!
'My hands touched a great keyboard, whence, perfect through long practice, I could direct lifelike motion.'
Sophia, The Personable Robot From Hanson Robotics.
'The de luxe model... has fifty different facial expressions...'
Swimming, Slithering Snake Robot
John Connor, how do you feel about swimming snakes?
The First 'Drone Cafe' Started By Dutch Students
'It was a smooth ovoid floating a few inches from the floor...'
Astronaut Tim Peake Completes Space Marathon
'Joe got out the gravity-simulator harnesses...'
Aerojet Rocketdyne 'Ion Drive' To Reach The Asteroids? (Update!)
'It has its own ion drive...'
Beatie Wolfe's Album Is A Deck Of NFC Cards
'The greater trumps ready to step right out through those glistening surfaces.'
Is Social Media Saving Space Travel?
'Officially, they were delighted to share their experiences with the public.'
iBubble Scuba Drone Follower
'Hovered behind him like a large tame bee...'
Ironing Robot May Fulfill Russian Science Fiction Dreams
Sometimes, the old inventions are the best.
Organic Photonic Skin Display
'A strip of readout skin on my wrist...'
More SF in the News Stories
More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories