Engineers Build World’s Smallest, Fastest Nanomotor

7

Researchers at the Cockrell School of Engineering at The University of Texas at Austin have built the smallest, fastest and longest-running tiny synthetic motor to date. The team’s nanomotor is an important step toward developing miniature machines that could one day move through the body to administer insulin for diabetics when needed, or target and treat cancer cells without harming good cells.

With the goal of powering these yet-to-be invented devices, UT Austin engineers focused on building a reliable, ultra-high-speed nanomotor that can convert electrical energy into mechanical motion on a scale 500 times smaller than a grain of salt.

Mechanical engineering assistant professor Donglei “Emma” Fan led a team of researchers in the successful design, assembly and testing of a high-performing nanomotor in a nonbiological setting. The team’s three-part nanomotor can rapidly mix and pump biochemicals and move through liquids, which is important for future applications. The team’s study was published in the April issue ofNature Communications.

Fan and her team are the first to achieve the extremely difficult goal of designing a nanomotor with large driving power.

With all its dimensions under 1 micrometer in size, the nanomotor could fit inside a human cell and is capable of rotating for 15 continuous hours at a speed of 18,000 RPMs, the speed of a motor in a jet airplane engine. Comparable nanomotors run significantly more slowly, from 14 RPMs to 500 RPMs, and have only rotated for a few seconds up to a few minutes.

Looking forward, nanomotors could advance the field of nanoelectromechanical systems (NEMS), an area focused on developing miniature machines that are more energy efficient and less expensive to produce. In the near future, the Cockrell School researchers believe their nanomotors could provide a new approach to controlled biochemical drug delivery to live cells.

To test its ability to release drugs, the researchers coated the nanomotor’s surface with biochemicals and initiated spinning. They found that the faster the nanomotor rotated, the faster it released the drugs.

Written By: University of Texas – Austin
continue to source article at utexas.edu

7 COMMENTS

  1. Hey, million dollar idea here!!!! Could someone who knows (because I most certainly do not) offer me a bit of discussion here???

    With the goal of powering these yet-to-be invented devices, UT Austin engineers focused on building a reliable, ultra-high-speed nanomotor that can convert electrical energy into mechanical motion on a scale 500 times smaller than a grain of salt.

    Here goes. What if it could be the a scientist reverses this and converts mechanical motion into electrical energy (yes i know this is easy science ie windmills, but I mean, on this scale). And an inventor put these “nano-windmills” all over vinyl siding for houses with wires that would run from the nano windmill into a central charging thing (I know, a battery). And wind could power a house?????

    Am I gonna be rich or am I a silly man ????? (BTW, could be both!)

    • In reply to #4 by crookedshoes:

      Hey, million dollar idea here!!!! Could someone who knows (because I most certainly do not) offer me a bit of discussion here???

      Here goes. What if it could be the a scientist reverses this and converts mechanical motion into electrical energy (yes i know this is easy science ie windmills, but I mean, on this scale).

      Sadly these machines work under the influence of large external magnetic fields. The coupling efficiency will be terrible, so even if you could get them to be mechanically, in phase with each other, so that the external magnetic fields they generate from wind sourced rotation add, rather than randomly cancel, gathering and using that rotating field to do work will be inefficient. There are more closely coupled geometries that would do the job better.

      To put on the side of a house you might consider piezoelectric nano-wire grass, waggling loops in the breeze could work…

      Edit….This is what we’ve got now. I’m now wondering if we could genetically modify convolvulus to be piezoelectric and put them in neighbouring electrode-troughs and wait for them to grow together to complete the circuit???

  2. very cool. I am not well versed in electricity as far as it’s actual applications. I kinda remember the theoretical physics portion; however it’s everyday reality is not something I am facile in. Hey, at least I got you to have an idea!!!

    We aren’t rich yet!!!

Leave a Reply