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Gearing up molecular rotary motors

Science

Machines and motors based on synthetic small molecules are realized by a "bottom-up" approach to nanotechnology (1–3) and could exploit molecular motion in one of two ways. The first generates macroscopic work by collecting the actions of many nanodevices organized in an array that provides spatial and temporal control of the motion activated by an energy supply. This approach mimics myosin motor proteins in skeletal muscles. The second route uses the energy-consuming directed movement of individual molecular machines to perform a task at the nanoscale, mimicking kinesin-based transport. On page 964 of this issue, Štacko et al. (5) report the synchronous transmission of a photoactivated directional motion from a synthetic molecular motor to a coupled rotor.


Locked synchronous rotor motion in a molecular motor

Science

Macroscopic motors rely on gears to keep components in synchrony. They constructed a molecular scaffold in which light absorption drives the rotation of upper and lower fragments around a connecting double bond. At the same time, steric constraints modulate the motion of a third component that is tethered to the top of the rotor, so that it continuously exposes the same face to the bottom. The design paves the way toward more complex synchronized motion in an assembly of molecular machines. Science, this issue p. 964; see also p. 906


Trio win Nobel Chemistry Prize for tiny molecular machines

The Japan Times

STOCKHOLM – Frenchman Jean-Pierre Sauvage, British-born J. Fraser Stoddart and Dutch scientist Bernard Feringa on Wednesday won the Nobel Prize in chemistry for developing molecular machines. The laureates share the prize of 8 million kronor ( 930,000) for the "design and synthesis" of molecules with controllable movements, which can perform a task when energy is added, the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences said. The academy said molecular machines "will most likely be used in the development of things such as new materials, sensors and energy storage systems." The academy said the first step toward a molecular machine was taken by Sauvage in 1983, when he succeeded in linking two ring-shaped molecules together to form a chain with parts that could move relative to each other. The second step was taken by Stoddart in 1991, when he threaded a molecular ring onto a molecular axle and demonstrated that the ring was able to move along the axle, leading to a molecular lift, a molecular muscle and a molecule-based computer chip.


Scientists Create A Molecular Motor-Propelled Liquid That Can Move By Itself

International Business Times

For a liquid to move from one point to another, you need one of two things -- a sloping surface (which allows gravity to act on the liquid), or a pump (which provides the power needed to move the liquid against gravity). However, in a new study published Friday in the journal Science, a team of researchers describe the creation of a new kind of material that can move on its own. This self-propelling fluid, which the authors of the study say holds promise for the creation of an entirely new class of fluids that can flow without any mechanical effort, was developed using filaments called microtubules and tiny molecular motors called kinesin. "The breakthrough ... was achieved by reproducing in the lab the incredibly complex series of processes that allow cells to change shape and adapt to their environment," Brandeis University, whose researchers created the material, said in a statement. "Cells can do this because the building blocks of its scaffolding -- hollow cylindrical tubes called microtubules -- are capable of self-transformation.


A nobel for molecular motors, Sarepta's return to normalcy, & machine learning in biotech

#artificialintelligence

The Nobel Prize in Chemistry this morning went to Jean-Pierre Sauvage, J. Fraser Stoddart and Bernard L. Feringa for breakthroughs in designing molecular machines. Their insights on building tiny motors -- 1,000 times thinner than a strand of hair -- have led to molecular robots that can pluck out and connect individual amino acids. They can also be used for drug delivery. And there's more to come: The Nobel committee said the molecular motor is about as advanced at this stage as the electric motor was in the 1830s, "when researchers proudly displayed various spinning cranks and wheels in their laboratories without having any idea that they would lead to electric trains, washing machines, fans, and food processors." The miniscule machinery honored today will likely be used in the future to build an array of sensors, energy storage systems, and even new material.