Researchers create the first thermal nanomotor in the world

April 15, 2008

Researchers from the UAB Research Park have created the first nanomotor that is propelled by changes in temperature. A carbon nanotube is capable of transporting cargo and rotating like a conventional motor, but is a million times smaller than the head of a needle. This research opens the door to the creation of new nanometric devices designed to carry out mechanical tasks and which could be applied to the fields of biomedicine or new materials.

The "nanotransporter" consists of a carbon nanotube - a cylindrical molecule formed by carbon atoms - covered with a shorter concentric nanotube which can move back and forth or act as a rotor. A metal cargo can be added to the shorter mobile tube, which could then transport this cargo from one end to the other of the longer nanotube or rotate around its axis.

Researchers are able to control these movements by applying different temperatures at the two ends of the long nanotube. The shorter tube thus moves from the warmer to the colder area and is similar to how air moves around a heater. This is the first time a nanoscale motor is created that can use changes in temperature to generate and control movements.

The movements along the longer tube can be controlled with a precision of less than the diameter of an atom. This ability to control objects at nanometre scale can be extremely useful for future applications in nanotechnology, e.g. in designing nanoelectromechanical systems with great technological potential in the fields in biomedicine and new materials.
-end-
The research has been published in the online journal Science Express (www.sciencexpress.org) and was directed by Adrian Bachtold, researcher at CIN2 (Nanoscience and Nanotechnology Research Centre, CSIC-ICN) and at CNM (National Microelectronics Centre, CSIC), and by Eduardo Hernández at ICMAB (Institute of Material Science, CSIC), all of which form part of the UAB Research Park. Research members included Riccardo Rurali from the UAB Department of Electronic Engineering, and Amelia Barreiro and Joel Moser from CIN2 (CSIC-ICN), with the collaboration of researchers from the University of Vienna, Austria and from EPFL in Lausanne, Switzerland.

The Catalan Institute of Nanotechnology is a private foundation publicly funded by the Catalan Government and Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona. The Nanoscience and Nanotechnology Research Centre is run jointly by the Spanish National Research Council and the Catalan Institute of Nanotechnology. The National Microelectronics Centre (CNM) and the Institute of Material Sciences (ICMAB) both belong to the Spanish National Research Council. The UAB Research Park - a joint alliance between UAB, CSIC and IRTA (Institute for Food and Agricultural Research and Technology) - is formed by a group of research centres and consortiums located at the Bellaterra campus of Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona.

Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona

Related Carbon Nanotube Articles from Brightsurf:

Scientists grow carbon nanotube forest much longer than any other
Carbon nanotube (CNT) forests are a solution to scaling up the production of CNTs, which are becoming a staple in many industries.

Neurons in spinal-cord injuries are reconnected in vivo via carbon nanotube sponges
Research conducted by two groups at the Center for Cooperative Research in Biomaterials CIC biomaGUNE and one at SISSA, Scuola Internazionale Superiore di Studi Avanzati (Italy), showed that functional materials based on carbon nanotubes offer a possible means for facilitating the reconnecting of neuronal networks damaged as a result of spinal cord injuries.

No limit yet for carbon nanotube fibers
Rice University researchers report advances in their quest to make the best carbon nanotube fibers for industry.

Electrochemical doping: researchers improve carbon nanotube transparent conductors
Skoltech researchers and their colleagues from Aalto University have discovered that electrochemical doping with ionic liquid can significantly enhance the optical and electrical properties of transparent conductors made of single-walled carbon nanotube films.

No touching: Skoltech researchers find contactless way to measure thickness of carbon nanotube films
Scientists from Skoltech and their colleagues from Russia and Finland have figured out a non-invasive way to measure the thickness of single-walled carbon nanotube films, which may find applications in a wide variety of fields from solar energy to smart textiles.

Carbon nanotube transistors make the leap from lab to factory floor
A technique for making carbon nanotube transistors in large quantities paves the way for more energy efficient, 3D microprocessors.

New study presents hygroscopic micro/nanolenses along carbon nanotube ion channels
A recent study, affiliated with South Korea's Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology (UNIST) has introduced a novel technology, which allows carbon nanotubes (CNTs) to be easily observed under room temperature.

Improving the electrical and mechanical properties of carbon-nanotube-based fibers
University of Illinois researchers at the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology recently developed a technique that can be used to build carbon-nanotube-based fibers by creating chemical crosslinks.

Graphene substrate improves the conductivity of carbon nanotube network
Scientists at Aalto University, Finland, and the University of Vienna, Austria, have combined graphene and single-walled carbon nanotubes into a transparent hybrid material with conductivity higher than either component exhibits separately.

Cooling nanotube resonators with electrons
In a study in Nature Physics, ICFO researchers report on a technique that uses electron transport to cool a nanomechanical resonator near the quantum regime.

Read More: Carbon Nanotube News and Carbon Nanotube Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.