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 ")

Low Cost Spray-On Solar Cells
'It turns sunlight into electricity... you spray it on.'- Larry Niven, 1995.

Wristify, Your Personal Cooling and Heating Device
'By law [a mandatory cooling unit] had to be strapped to every commuter's back...'- Philip K. Dick

Solar Roadways Could Power USA - Times 3
This would be great if it works - the roads might be better maintained as well.

Spaser-Based Circuits Could Be Printed On Clothing
'Alex rolled his wrist over to check the watch imprinted on his sleeve.'- Niven and Barnes, 1981.

 

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

Vacation
I'll be back next week...

Origami Robot Finally Self-Assembles, Walks On Its Own
Now shipping flat, but better than Ikea, because self-assembling.

A.L.O. Robot Butler Serves You At Aloft Hotel
'Her idea of what a butler-valet combo should look like...'

Mometum Machines Burgerbot
'One of these gorgeous eating places where we were served entirely by mechanical apparatus...'

Google Lobbies For Autonomous Motorcycles
'He had never ridden any motorized device that lacked onboard steering and balance systems.'

No Cages In Future Zoos Is Zootopia?
'The park... twisted through specimens from every inhabited planet of the known universe.'

Navdy HeadUp Display (HUD) For Your Car
'All displays are thrown on a mirror in front of you...'

Computer 'Aesop' Writes Fables With A Moral
'I handed Tony the master tape and he played it into the IBM'

Artificial Wombs - Ectogenesis Technology - Is On The Way
'Magnificent, aren't they? (Lama Su, in Star Wars II)

Robotic Exoskeleton For Shipyard Workers
'Earth's scientists solved the problem... devising rigid metallic clothing not unlike armor...'

Timeful Appointment App Learns, Optimizes Your Routines
'The [Daily Schedule program] suited its tone to his movements and the combined analysis of his psychophysical condition.'

3D Printing Your Science-Fictional Metals
I love science-fictional materials!

Bespoke Clothing In 30 Minutes
'He sat himself down in a sales cubicle and dialed the code number for kilts.'

Low Cost Spray-On Solar Cells
'It turns sunlight into electricity... you spray it on.'

Survival Seed Vault Low Cost Life Bank
'They existed in the Life Bank, as did virtually every plant...'

PoseiDrone Tentacled Undersea Robot Like HG Wells'
'Its motion was so swift, complex, and perfect that at first I did not see it as a machine...'

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.