Small Molecule Walker Takes First Steps

A single molecule has been made to take its first steps, in a new development from Oxford University chemists.

'In the future we can imagine tiny machines that could fetch and carry cargo the size of individual molecules, which can be used as building blocks of more complicated molecular machines; imagine tiny tweezers operating inside cells,' said Dr Gokce Su Pulcu of Oxford University's Department of Chemistry. 'The ultimate goal is to use molecular walkers to form nanotransport networks,' she says.

As they report in this week's Nature Nanotechnology, Su and her colleagues at Oxford's Bayley Group took a new approach to detecting a walker's every step in real time. Their solution? To build a walker from an arsenic-containing molecule and detect its motion on a track built inside a nanopore.

'We can't 'see' the walker moving, but by mapping changes in the ionic current flowing through the pore as the molecule moves from foothold to foothold we are able to chart how it is stepping from one to the other and back again,' Su explains. To ensure that the walker doesn't float away, they designed it to have 'feet' that stick to the track by making and breaking chemical bonds. Su says: 'It's a bit like stepping on a carpet with glue under your shoes: with each step the walker's foot sticks and then unsticks so that it can move to the next foothold.' This approach could make it possible to design a machine that can walk on a variety of surfaces.

Science fiction fans remember with some apprehension the first steps of the autofac from the 1955 Philip K. Dick short story of the same name:

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.

Via PhysOrg.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 12/13/2014)

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 - (" Robotics ")

Drywall Robot Looking For Sheetrock
Sheetrockers have sure changed since my day. Speaking as someone who as done this, I welcome robots.

Robots Help People Get Dressed, As Predicted In 1931
Yes, people of the future, robots will dress you.

Robot Snake Flies, Fights Fires
Just a prototype, but shows real promise.

IPAL Chinese Robot Babysitter
'But Nanny is different...' - Philip K. Dick, 1955.

 

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

Musk Declares Tesla Supercharger Capacity Will Double By Next Year
'Recharge the batteries... in almost every town and village...'

Drywall Robot Looking For Sheetrock
Sheetrockers have sure changed since my day.

Ford's Autonomous Cabs 'Transportation As A Service'
'He was glad to crawl into his autocab and close the cover.'

Sex In Driverless Cars?
'...admirable for petting.'

Amazing Kepler Space Telescope Decommissioned By NASA
'Thus it came about that the search for a planetiferous sun... was not unduly prolonged...'

ODYSSEUS Solar-Powered Stratospheric Plane Flies Forever
'The planes flew continuously, twenty-four hours a day...'

Augmented and-or Virtual Reality Shoes From Google
'The auto-treadmill's bumps and gullies matched whatever terrain the goggles showed me...'

Soon, Your Tesla Will Follow You Like A Pet
'... follow him as faithfully as a well-trained hound.'

Chinese Watrix Gait Recognition Watching You Always
'... those pesky gait-recognition cameras.'

FlexPai Foldable Phone By Royole
'...A paper thin polycarbon screen unfurled.'

Bioreactor Helps Legless Frogs Get Their Jump Back
'An alien drug... Used by an insect race... It can repair bones and organs. It can grow new tissue."

Oh Yes, We're Building The Rotating Tower In Dubai
'Give me an old-fashioned tetragon on a central pivot every time.'

Xinhua AI Anchor Puts CGI Face To Automated News
'...a congeries of software agents.'

Wirewax Watching You Watch, Adjusting Your Experience
'He adjusted the n, the r and b knobs, and hopefully anticipated a turn for the better...'

LawGeex AI Beats 20 Top Lawyers
'The Law Society has strict rules on the use of pseudo-intelligent software - terrified of putting... its members out of work.'

ROAM Robotics Skiing Exoskeleton
'The real genius in the design is that you don't have to control the suit; you just wear it...'

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.