Home Business The smallest flow drive motor so far is only 25 nanometers – Scientific Exploration – cnBeta.COM

The smallest flow drive motor so far is only 25 nanometers – Scientific Exploration – cnBeta.COM

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The smallest flow drive motor so far is only 25 nanometers – Scientific Exploration – cnBeta.COM

Researchers at Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands have created the world‘s smallest flow-driven motor. Inspired by iconic Dutch windmills and biological motor proteins, researchers have constructed a flow-driven rotor that self-configures through DNA, converting the energy of electrical or salt gradients into useful mechanical work. This achievement opens up new avenues for designing active robots at the nanoscale. A related paper was published in the recent journal Nature Physics.


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For thousands of years, rotating electrical machines have been the power source of human society. From windmills and waterwheels in the Netherlands and around the world, to today’s advanced offshore wind turbines that represent the future of green energy. These rotary motors, driven by water flow or wind, also have prominent applications in biological cells, an example being the enzyme FoF1-ATP synthase, which produces the fuel needed for cells to function. But until now, it has been difficult to make synthetic structures at the nanoscale.

The flow-driven motor manufactured this time is made of DNA material. This structure docks with a nanopore (a tiny opening) in the film. Under the action of an electric field, DNA bundles as thin as 7 nanometers self-organize into rotor-like structures, which then enter into a continuous rotational motion of more than 10 revolutions per second.

For seven years, researchers have been trying to synthesize such spinning nanomotors from the bottom up. They used DNA folding techniques that exploit specific interactions between complementary DNA base pairs to build 2D and 3D nanoobjects. By applying a voltage or other means to form an ion current to generate energy, the rotor rotates. The direction of rotation is set by the chirality of the rotor, left-handed rotates clockwise; right-handed rotates counterclockwise. The researchers also demonstrated the “nanoturbine”‘s ability to carry loads.

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The researchers say the achievement is a milestone, as it is the first experiment to date of a flow-driven active rotor at the nanoscale. The importance of this work is not limited to this simple rotor itself, the technology and physical mechanisms behind it open up a whole new avenue for fabricating synthetic nanomotors — flow-driven nanoturbines, an unexplored field.

Researchers say they’ve built the first nanoscale turbine that reproduces a beautiful Dutch windmill, but this time it’s only 25 nanometers, the size of a protein in the body.

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