Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Nanocar Wins Top Science Award

James Tour, a professor of chemistry at Rice University together with a team of postgraduate and postdoctoral researchers has built a nanocar with chassis, working suspension, wheels and a motor. Believe it or not, the width of this whole assembly is just 4 nanometers. To power up the car, you shine light on it and the motor spins in one direction and pushes the car like a peddle wheel on the surface. Prof. Tour won the Foresight Institute Feynman Prize for experimental nanotechnology. The following set of images shows how this incredible car really works.

                              The nanocar

              How light moves nanocar's engine

                        Suspension system

The most important question at this point is, what is the use of this?. Specially when it comes to real world applications, can it really help?.

Until now, the engineers have opted for top-down approaches when constructing most of the things. For example, trees are cut down to make tables, and as such, large silicon wafers are cut away to make transistors. But in the future, things will be built not from the top-down, but the bottom-up.

Prof. Tour points to hemoglobin as an example. Each heme group -- containing one iron atom -- carries only one molecule of oxygen, but billions of them go back and forth carrying oxygen from our lungs to the cells crying out for it. And on the way back out of the cells, the hemes detoxify by carrying out CO2. In the same way, nanovehicles could carry atoms to construct objects.

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