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Mini Motors

For nanomotors, miniscule is mightier


Tiny things can pack a big punch, especially when it comes to science.


A multidisciplinary team led by Northwestern University has made an electric motor you can’t see with the naked eye: an electric motor on the molecular scale. This early work — a motor that can convert electrical energy into unidirectional motion at the molecular level — has implications for materials science and particularly medicine, where the electric molecular motor could team up with biomolecular motors in the human body.

“We have taken molecular nanotechnology to another level,” said Northwestern’s Sir Fraser Stoddart, who received the 2016 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his work in the design and synthesis of molecular machines. “This elegant chemistry uses electrons to effectively drive a molecular motor, much like a macroscopic motor. While this area of chemistry is in its infancy, I predict one day these tiny motors will make a huge difference in medicine.”



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