Molecular machines

Hauling atomic-size loads

ACS Nano http://doi.org/6m3 (2015)

Credit: AMERICAN CHEMICAL SOCIETY

Conversion of thermal or electrical stimuli into mechanical motion can be controlled at the molecular scale; this has been previously demonstrated, among others, by Gianaurelio Cuniberti and colleagues, who synthesized windmill-shaped supramolecular nanostructures that move on a gold surface when stimulated by a voltage pulse applied through the tip of a scanning tunnelling microscope. Now, this group shows that such nanostructures can also act as molecular electromechanical systems; guided by controlled electrical pulses, they can pick up and transport single gold atoms, gold dimers and small molecules adsorbed on the surface. The researchers verified that the motion is neither due to a mechanical interaction of the tip with the nanostructures nor to direct electrical driving of the transported particles. Depending on the sign of the applied voltage, the loads can be rotated by a small angle or translated by a few ångströms, demonstrating a fine control that may be useful for the realization of more complex molecular machines.

Authors

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Martiradonna, L. Hauling atomic-size loads. Nature Mater 14, 857 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1038/nmat4413

Download citation

Search

Nature Briefing

Sign up for the Nature Briefing newsletter — what matters in science, free to your inbox daily.

Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing