Scientists have assembled a gear from just 71 atoms and it’s driven by light

Written By O. Love

A research team from the Friedrich-Alexander University in Erlangen-Nuremberg has successfully created the world’s smallest gear. The nanogear is the first that can also be actively controlled and driven.

Miniaturization plays a key role in the further development of modern technologies and allows the production of more compact devices with more power.

It also plays an important role in manufacturing as it allows materials and functional materials or drugs to be created at previously unseen levels of precision.

The molecular gear measures just 1.6 nm, which is about 50,000 times the thickness of a human hair – the smallest of its kind.

But that is not all. The research team succeeded in actively powering the gear and thus solving a fundamental problem in building nanoscale machines.

The gearbox is made up of two components that are interlocked with each other and consist of a total of 71 atoms. The first component is a trypticene molecule. The second is a flat fragment of the thioindigo molecule.

The nanoreducer is driven by light, making it a molecular photoreducer. Because they are driven directly by light energy, the plate and the triptycene propeller rotate in sync.

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