MOF speedboat study adds spark to smart autonomous motors

Oct 30, 2012 by Nancy Owano weblog
MOF speedboat study adds spark to smart autonomous motors
Credit: Kyoto University

(Phys.org)—Research towards self-propelling microscopic machines has a boost in the form of a newly published study by researchers at City University of New York-Hunter College and Kyoto University in Japan. They worked out a 'molecular motor' that can move, speedboat-style, across a liquid surface.

"Autonomous motors of a metal–organic framework powered by reorganization of self-assembled at interfaces" has been published in the journal Nature Materials. The journal presents new research in materials science and engineering. The study authors noted that a variety of microsystems have been developed that and convert it to mechanical motion, but they have developed "new autonomous biochemical motors by integrating a metal–organic framework (MOF) and self-assembling peptides."
.

The team designed a type of molecular motor that is capable of propelling itself across a . They used a highly porous MOF device constructed to leak organic peptide molecules out of the slit, which propels the boat. "The MOF is applied as an energy-storing cell that assembles peptides inside nanoscale pores of the coordination framework," they wrote. The researchers, led by Hiroshi Matsui of Hunter College, filled the pores in an MOF with the peptide diphenylalanine and floated the particles on water. Adding ethylenediaminetetraacetate (EDTA) partially degraded the MOF which allowed the peptide to escape from the pores. "The neat MOF particle is descended immediately to the bottom of the EDTA solution with no transitional and rotational motions and it does not decompose visibly under the microscope in the time frame of this experimental setting," they wrote.

Explaining their work further, Chemistry World, the Royal Society of Chemistry publication, said. "Upon reaching the water, the peptide spontaneously reassembles into a hydrophobic aggregate, reducing the surface tension at that point. The creation of a surface-tension gradient forces the particles to move towards the area with higher , a phenomenon known as the Marangoni effect."

Scientific efforts to imitate nature's motile life forms have been part of the quest for autonomous microscopic machines. The study authors said that "This demonstration opens the route towards new applications of MOFs and reconfigurable molecular self-assembly, possibly evolving into a smart autonomous motor capable of mimicking swimming bacteria and, with integrated recognition units, harvesting target chemicals." The authors are Yasuhiro Ikezoe, Gosuke Washino, Takashi Uemura, Susumu Kitagawa and Hiroshi Matsui.

Explore further: Material prevents plastic from ageing, offering environmental and cost savings for the energy industry

More information: www.nature.com/nmat/journal/vaop/ncurrent/full/nmat3461.html
Nature Materials, 2012, DOI: 10.1038/nmat3461

Related Stories

'Seeding' the next generation of smart materials

Mar 18, 2011

(PhysOrg.com) -- Scientists at CSIRO have developed a simple but effective technique for growing and adding value to an exciting new group of smart materials which could be used in areas such as optical sensing ...

MOFs materials special review issue

Feb 22, 2012

New analyses of more than 4,000 scientific studies have concluded that a family of "miracle materials" called MOFs have a bright future in products and technologies — ranging from the fuel tanks in hydrogen-powered cars ...

Scientists squeeze more out of metal-organic framework

Jan 12, 2010

(PhysOrg.com) -- Scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy's Argonne National Laboratory have discovered a new route to transform the structure of porous materials at industrially-accessible high pressures.

Recommended for you

Mantis shrimp stronger than airplanes

17 hours ago

(Phys.org) —Inspired by the fist-like club of a mantis shrimp, a team of researchers led by University of California, Riverside, in collaboration with University of Southern California and Purdue University, ...

New mineral shows nature's infinite variability

23 hours ago

(Phys.org) —A University of Adelaide mineralogy researcher has discovered a new mineral that is unique in structure and composition among the world's 4,000 known mineral species.

User comments : 0

More news stories

Mantis shrimp stronger than airplanes

(Phys.org) —Inspired by the fist-like club of a mantis shrimp, a team of researchers led by University of California, Riverside, in collaboration with University of Southern California and Purdue University, ...

The anti-inflammatory factory

Russian scientists, in collaboration with their colleagues from Pittsburgh University, have discovered how lipid mediators are produced. The relevant paper was published in Nature Chemistry. Lipid mediators are molecules that p ...

Robot scouts rooms people can't enter

(Phys.org) —Firefighters, police officers and military personnel are often required to enter rooms with little information about what dangers might lie behind the door. A group of engineering students at ...

In the 'slime jungle' height matters

(Phys.org) —In communities of microbes, akin to 'slime jungles', cells evolve not just to grow faster than their rivals but also to push themselves to the surface of colonies where they gain the best access ...

ESA's weightless plants fly on a Dragon

(Phys.org) —It is a race against time for ESA's Gravi-2 experiment following launch last Friday on the Dragon space ferry. Stowed in Dragon's cargo are lentil seeds that will be nurtured into life on the ...