Go Speed Racer! Revving up the world's fastest nanomotors

May 01, 2008
Nanomotor Racing
Green lines show results of "racing," where images a, b, c, and d represent the tracks left by various types of speeding nanomotors. The winner is "c," a "catalytic nanomotor" composed of gold and platinum nanowires supercharged with carbon nanotubes. Courtesy of the American Chemical Society

In a “major step” toward a practical energy source for powering tomorrow’s nanomachines, researchers in Arizona report development of a new generation of sub-microscopic nanomotors that are up to 10 times more powerful than existing motors. Their study is scheduled for the May 27 issue of ACS Nano journal.

In the new study, Joseph Wang and colleagues point out that existing nanomotors, including so-called “catalytic nanomotors,” are made with gold and platinum nanowires and use hydrogen peroxide fuel for self-propulsion. But these motors are too slow and inefficient for practical use, with top speeds of about 10 micrometers per second, the researchers say.

Wang and colleagues supercharged their nanomotors by inserting carbon nanotubes into the platinum, thus boosting average speed to 60 micrometers per second. Spiking the hydrogen peroxide fuel with hydrazine (a type of rocket fuel) kicked up the speed still further, to 94- 200 micrometers per second. This innovation “offers great promise for self-powered nanoscale transport and delivery systems,” the scientists state.

Click here for video of the nanomotors in action.

Source: American Chemical Society

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User comments : 3

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Mercury_01
not rated yet May 01, 2008
They just put them into the fuel and they go?
cybrbeast
not rated yet May 04, 2008
Sperm is not a nanomachine, it's a micromachine.
superhuman
not rated yet May 04, 2008
These are not really machines at all (no moving parts) these are just complex catalysts which catalyze hydrolysis (decomposition) of 'fuels' and in the process propel themselves. The principle is similar to rocket engine (which in its simplest form is also hardly a machine, just a tube where fuel burns sealed at one end).