Study paves the way to investigate nano-machines in action
A team of scientists has used microwaves to unravel the exact structure of a tiny molecular motor. The nano-machine consists of just a single molecule, made up of 27 carbon and 20 hydrogen atoms (C27H20). Like a macroscopic motor it has a stator and a rotor, connected by an axle. The analysis reveals just how the individual parts of the motor are constructed and arranged with respect to each other. The team led by DESY Leading Scientist Melanie Schnell reports the results in the journal Angewandte Chemie International Edition.
The artificial molecular motor was synthesized by the team of Dutch Nobel laureate Ben Feringa from the University of Groningen who is a co-author of the paper. Feringa was awarded the 2016 Nobel Prize in Chemistry together with Jean-Pierre Sauvage from the University of Strasbourg and Sir Fraser Stoddart from the Northwestern University in the US for the design and synthesis of molecular machines.
“The functional performance of such nano-machines clearly emerges from their unique structural properties,” the authors write in their study. “To better understand and optimise molecular machinery it is important to know their detailed structure and how this structure changes during key mechanical steps, preferably under conditions in which the system is not perturbed by external influences.”