Scientists in Singapore have scored a breakthrough in nanotechnology by inventing a molecular gear whose rotation can be deliberately controlled, Singapore's Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR) said on Monday.
Scientists from A*STAR's Institute of Materials Research and Engineering (IMRE) discovered the way to successfully control the rotation of a single-molecule gear with the size of 1.2 nm, which is via the optimization of molecular design, molecular manipulation and surface atomic chemistry.
"This was a breakthrough because before the team's discovery, motions of molecular rotors and gears were random and typically consisted of a mix of rotation and lateral displacement," the A*STAR said in an statement, adding that the scientists solved this scientific conundrum by proving that the rotation of the molecule-gear could be well-controlled.
Christian Joachim, the leading scientist of the research said, "Making a gear the size of a few atoms is one thing, but being able to deliberately control its motions and actions is something else altogether."
"What we've done at IMRE is to create a truly complete working gear that will be the fundamental piece in creating more complex molecular machines that are no bigger than a grain of sand," Joachim added.