Molecular Machine Breakthrough: Solid State Synthetic Molecular Machine

In a major breakthrough for the field of molecular machines, Canadian chemists have created a self-assembling metallo-organic molecular wheel and axle. This is the first time scientists have proved that interlocked molecules can function inside solid materials. The lead author, a graduate student, said:

“Until now, this has only ever been done in solution,” explained Chemistry & Biochemistry PhD student Nick Vukotic, lead author on a front page article recently published in the June issue of the journal Nature Chemistry [abstract]. “We’re the first ones to put this into a solid state material.”

A molecular wheel and axle in a solid state material is proof of concept for simple solid state molecular machines. A wheel can in principle be developed into more sophisticated solid state molecular machines, such as power-transfer rods and other kinetic frameworks or elements in a solid state molecular computer. The predictability of the solid state environment relative to the environment of a solution is crucial for developing predictable molecular machine systems, and makes it easier to apply certain general principles of macroscale engineering to nanoscale systems.

With relatively little progress in molecular machinery over the past decade, this is a welcome advance for nanotech enthusiasts.

Several years ago, commenting on a post I made on arguments for the feasibility of solid state molecular nanotechnology, nanotech expert and former UK “nano-champion” Richard Jones said:

[...] the examples of biological nanotechnology and the success of work on DNA nanotechnology by Seeman and others tells us nothing about whether MNT is possible, since the operating principles of soft and wet nanotechnology are quite different to the proposals of MNT.

Now, the existence proof of a solid state molecular machine provides new evidence about the relative plausibility of complex molecular machine systems.

Via Foresight Institute.

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