From Ohio University: “Scientists develop synchronized molecular motors”

Ohio U bloc

Ohio University

May 9, 2016
Saw-Wai Hla
(740) 593-1718

Andrea Gibson,
(740) 597-2166

Jennifer Hughes,
(740) 597-1939

(Top) This illustration shows parallel motors with dipolar rotator arms indicated by arrows. The green and red units represent negative and positive charges. (Bottom) Scanning tunneling microscope image showing a parallel arrangement of dipolar motor assembly. Image credit: Saw-Wai Hla

An international team of scientists has created molecular motors that can communicate and synchronize their movements.

The team, led by physicist Saw-Wai Hla of Ohio University, published* an Advanced Online Publication today in the journal Nature Nanotechnology demonstrating that scientists can control the coordinated motions of tiny machines at the nanoscale. The research has implications for the future development of technologies that can be used in computers, photonics and electronics as well as novel nanoscale devices.

“Our goal is to mimic natural biological machines by creating synthetic machines we can control,” said Hla, a professor of physics and astronomy.

Hla’s team observed up to 500 molecular motors move simultaneously in the same direction when the scientists applied 1 volt of energy through the tip of a scanning tunneling microscope. At lower levels of energy, the motors also rotated, but in different directions. However, this motion was not random, but showed patterns of coordination, Hla said.

In the experiment, scientists observed the synchronized movements at minus 316 degrees Fahrenheit.

The motors have two decks: The upper deck is the rotor and the lower deck is the stator, which has eight sulfur atoms that act as atomic glue to stick to surfaces of gold or copper. The rotating and stationary decks are connected with an atom of europium that serves as an atomic ball bearing.

Scientists at CEMES/CNRS in France synthesized the molecular motors, which include a dipole in the rotor arms, which means that they have a positive and negative side. This unique feature allows the individual motors to communicate and coordinate their motions, Hla’s team found.

In addition, the scientists learned that a hexagon arrangement of the motors is key for the synchronization, as it allows the motors to effectively communicate.

The molecular motors create a ferroelectric system, which is a prized property of materials used in various electronic devices, Hla added.

The nanomotors are so small that scientists can fit 44,000 billion of them in a 1 centimeter square area.

“One of the goals of nanotechnology is to assemble billions of nanomachines packed into a tiny area that can be operated in a synchronized manner to transport information or to coherently transfer energy to multiple destinations within nanometer range,” Hla explained.

The Ohio team received funding from the U.S. Department of Energy and the French team is supported by the French National Research Agency.

Ohio University team members on the study were S.-W. Hla, Y. Zhang, H. Kersell, V. Iancu, U.G.E. Perera, Y. Li, A. Deshpande and K.-F. Braun of the Department of Physics and Astronomy and Nanoscale and Quantum Phenomena Institute. Hla also is the head of the Quantum and Energy Materials research group at the Center for Nanoscale Materials in Argonne National Laboratory. C. Joachim, R. Stefak and J. Echeverria of CEMES/CNRS in France and G. Rapenne of CEMES/CNRS and the University of Toulouse in France collaborated on the study.

*Science paper:
Simultaneous and coordinated rotational switching of all molecular rotors in a network

See the full article here .

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Ohio U campus

n 1786, 11 men gathered at the Bunch of Grapes Tavern in Boston to propose development of the area north of the Ohio River and west of the Allegheny Mountains known then as the Ohio Country. Led by Manasseh Cutler and Rufus Putnam, the Ohio Company petitioned Congress to take action on the proposed settlement. The eventual outcome was the enactment of the Northwest Ordinance of 1787, which provided for settlement and government of the territory and stated that “…schools and the means of education shall forever be encouraged.”

In 1803, Ohio became a state and on February 18, 1804, the Ohio General Assembly passed an act establishing “The Ohio University.” The University opened in 1808 with one building, three students, and one professor, Jacob Lindley. One of the first two graduates of the University, Thomas Ewing, later became a United States senator and distinguished himself as cabinet member or advisor to four presidents.

Twenty-four years after its founding, in 1828, Ohio University conferred an A.B. degree on John Newton Templeton, its first black graduate and only the third black man to graduate from a college in the United States. In 1873, Margaret Boyd received her B.A. degree and became the first woman to graduate from the University. Soon after, the institution graduated its first international alumnus, Saki Taro Murayama of Japan, in 1895.