World's smallest car is the size of a molecule

A team at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands says the only real ways that it has any visual similarities to a car is that it has four wheels and a bare-bones internal framework.

The car is powered by electrical pulses that respond to millivolts of energy. For every half-turn of its wheels, the car needed another jolt of energy, the Daily Mail reported.

Even though the actual size of the project may be smaller than the average human eye, it is a massive breakthrough in the field of nanotechnology.

The scientists argue that while one may not see these little speed demons tearing down highways anytime soon, the research behind it will likely effect other fields in years to come.

The fact that the molecule was able to take external electrical energy and use it to move itself is scientifically significant.

“To build the nanotechnology of the future like nano robots, machines and transporters you need something to fuel it,” said Ben Feringa, one of the scientists involved with the project.

He added: “There is a great incentive to build motors at the nano scale. There are many nano systems build from all kinds of materials, but this is, as far as we can tell, the first time a nano motor has been used to propel something by fuelling it.”

New method

In the most recent experiment, the scientists blasted energy into the molecule by using a microscope with an atom-sized object directing the energy towards the car.
“It’s very difficult to know where the future will go and ultimately the systems will be different. But you have to find the fundamental principles. That makes things possible,” Ferniga said.

University of California Professor Alex Zettl was the first to make the world’s smallest synthetic motor, and James Tour made the first nano car without a motor in 2005, but the Dutch discovery is the first to put theories from both discoveries together to make something that at least resembles a car that moves.

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