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 ")

3D Printed Spherical Flying Machine
'Gold dots against blue, basketball-sized, twelve feet up....' - Larry Niven, 1972.

Nanotech Used To Create Custom Water Filters In Tanzania
'People started out squeamish about Clearsacs...'- Paolo Bacigalupi, 2015.

Google Project Soli - Control Devices With A Gesture
'He waved his hand and the circuit switched...'- Philip K. Dick, 1955.

NASA's Subvocal Speech System
'She took a subvocal input device from its rack...'- David Brin, 1990.

 

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

Jazz AI Compliments Of DARPA
'I request that you feed the correlation between those dots and the levers of the panel into my memory banks.'

Tasty Space Lettuce!
Having tested, we tasted.

See LG OLED Wallpaper - Amazing Video
'... television that unrolled like a poster.'

Canada's Inflatable Space Elevator Tower
"...establish an elevator system linking Earth to space?"

Ekso Works Industrial Exoskeleton
'Earth's scientists [devised] rigid metallic clothing not unlike armor...'

Mother Robot Evolves Her Children
'The Robot Mother... the most dangerous thing in creation.'

Cheetah 2 Robot Now Leaps Obstacles To Get You
'The legs are long, curled way up to deliver power, like a cheetah's.'

Xiaoice Will Text You And Be Your Friend
'If you spoke English, results might be whimsical...'

Synthetic Coral To Clean The Seas?
'Numberless capillaries arranged in a belt around the smart coral reef...'

Organoids Galore!
'Runciter's body contained a dozen artiforgs...'

Artificial Gravity? Why Not?
'The artificial gravity-controls in the base of the ship... were being tampered with!'

Hackers Can Take Control Of Cars From Anywhere In The World
'The car faltered as the external command came to brake...'

Armed Drone Opens Fire
'Each a television eye and a sonic stunner...'

Robotic Exoskeleton Releases Man From Wheelchair
'This man was standing on two corrugated-soled titanium footplates...'

Oh, Just Let Robots Run Airports
I'd like a friendly robot to help me at airports.

How Smart Should AI's Be Allowed To Get?
'Every AI ever built has an electromagnetic shotgun wired to its forehead'

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.