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Electric Motor Made From a Single Molecule 82

An anonymous reader writes "For the first time, an electric motor has been made from a single molecule. At 1 nanometre long, it's the smallest electric motor ever. Its creators plan to submit their design to Guinness World Records, but the teeny motor could have practical applications, such as pushing fluid through narrow pipes in 'lab-on-a-chip' devices. E. Charles Sykes at Tufts University in Boston and colleagues anchored lopsided butyl methyl sulphide to a copper surface and flowed current through it."
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Electric Motor Made From a Single Molecule

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  • faping (Score:1, Interesting)

    by rim_namor ( 2454342 ) on Monday September 05, 2011 @12:19PM (#37309046)
    That's what I get for reading TFA.

    Molecules have previously converted energy from light and chemical reactions into directed motion like rolling or flapping. Electricity has also set an oxygen molecule spinning randomly. But controlled, electrically-driven motion â" necessary for a device to be classed as a motor â" had not yet been observed in a single molecule.

    Try reading that and try not to get the wrong impression. Faping?

  • by ShooterNeo ( 555040 ) on Monday September 05, 2011 @01:20PM (#37309416)

    Molecular manufacturing technology may be decades away, but things like this are enheartening to read about. Out of all of the possible technologies we might develop in the foreseeable future, molecular manufacturing nanotechnology is the most promising. (that we know are possible within the laws of physics...antigravity or free energy would be nice but we don't know of any physical principles that would allow them)

    Essentially, "all" we have to do is develop a nanoscale machine that is made of gears and motor systems like this one and has sensors and electronics packages. It has to duplicate the functions of a 3d printer under extremely controlled conditions.

    Limitations on the machine : conditions will need to be as predictable as humans can make them. That means cryogenic temperatures, a vacuum chamber, a steady and consistent power source, and a steady supply of completely pure feedstock to work with.

    The machine's function would be to place a single atom in one of several possible locations, and/or to stabilize a structure with some kind of atomic clamp that injects or removes electric charge. Each machine would probably only be able to work in a single case...say a carbon atom in a single bonding scenario for one machine.

    You'd build arrays of these machines, and with a few hundred variants of the machine (each one only slightly different than the others) you'd have a complete printing system able to print nearly any structure you have the atomic bonding map for, including COPIES OF THEMSELVES.

    That last bit is everything. Nanotechnology is merely a hyper-expensive way to make high end electronics and other expensive items without self replication.

    WITH it, the sky is the limit. With self replication, we could very soon make huge arrays of these 3d printers, big flat plates with trillions and trillions of individual, identical subunits. These machines could gradually produce, inside big vacuum chambers and at cryogenic temperatures, almost anything you have the resources and means to make.

    All those kids who claim they want to help the unfortunate in Africa? We need this kind of technology to really make a dent in the world's problems. Anyone want to go to outer space? The only real way we could ever make rocket rides cheap enough for the average man is if building high end spacecraft was as easy as printing out the parts, with near complete automation (and the parts would be atomically near-perfect, eliminating the need for most quality control)

    We could even use disposable rockets this way...just send out a tractor to pick up the spent stages, melt down the metals in a plasma furnace to separate the different elements, and reform the atomic feedstock you need to print out new spacecraft.

    Want artificial intelligence? Ain't going to happen with today's software methods nor today's neuroscience. But if you could look at atomically perfect scans of a perfectly preserved human brain (through careful cryogenic freezing and fixation) you could actually steal the firmware of human intelligence right from the hardware. With automated tools, you'd convert neural maps of human beings you KNOW were sentient (before they died) and emulate them on molecular computing circuitry. It probably would still be an incredible challenge, but with these kinds of tools I think working AI would be merely a matter of time.

    Tired of being born, growing up, enjoying a brief period of good health and sexual function, and then gradually declining decade after decade until death? In the long run, this same technology could be used to repair human bodies or even eliminate the need for them entirely.

  • by somersault ( 912633 ) on Monday September 05, 2011 @02:00PM (#37309632) Homepage Journal

    Just because someone has "experience", doesn't make them good. Especially if they're clearly and terrifyingly ignorant. Usually I don't give a fuck about politics, but if I were American, I would have voted for Obama. I would have voted for a mouldy lump of cheese over Palin. The only person I'd trust less than her is that beauty pageant woman talking about "the Iraq and such as like".

Each honest calling, each walk of life, has its own elite, its own aristocracy based on excellence of performance. -- James Bryant Conant