Nanocar inventor named Top Nanotech Innovator

Sep 21, 2006

Rice University chemist and nanocar inventor James Tour has been selected Innovator of the Year in Small Times magazine's Best of Small Tech Research Award competition. The awards recognize the best people, products and companies in nanotechnology, microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) and microsystems.

Tour is Chao Professor of Chemistry, professor of mechanical engineering and materials science, professor of computer science and director of the Carbon Nanotechnology Laboratory in Rice's Richard E. Smalley Institute for Nanoscale Science and Technology. He was recognized for his pioneering research in molecular self-assembly, including the development of single-molecule nanocars.

Tour's group unveiled its ultrasmall nanocars in October 2005. Measuring just 3-by-4 nanometers, nanocars have four tires, a rigid chassis and axles that spin freely and swivel independently of one another. About 20,000 nanocars can be parked side-by-side across the diameter of a human hair. The nanocars were imaged in rolling action in collaboration with his colleague Kevin Kelly, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering.

In announcing the award, Small Times said Tour "is bringing molecular self-assembly to the point of commercial reality. His nanocar is a practical example of molecular manipulation, and his group is hard at work on more sophisticated machines."

Tour designed nanocars as a test system for new methods of molecular self-assembly. During the past year, his research team has extended the original concept, rolling out a motorized nanocar; a nanotruck with a cargo bay; a six-wheeled, three-axled NanoCaterpillar; a nanotrain; a nanobackhoe, complete with flexible extension arm; and an ultrasmall version of the nanocar dubbed the NanoCooper. They are currently working on a high-performance version of the motorized nanocar that contains twin solar-powered motors.

"We want to build things from the bottom-up, one molecule at a time, and in order to do that, we need to transport molecules from place to place," said Tour. "Just as cells use enzymes to assemble proteins and large molecules, we want to design synthetic transporters that are capable of doing much the same thing in non-biological environments."

Source: Rice University

Explore further: Researchers improve thermal conductivity of common plastic by adding graphene coating

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Rice scientists attach motor to single-molecule car

Apr 12, 2006

In follow-on work to last year's groundbreaking invention of the world's first single-molecule car, chemists at Rice University have produced the first motorized version of their tiny nanocar. The research is p ...

Recommended for you

A new way to convert light to electrical energy

6 hours ago

The conversion of optical power to an electrical potential is of general interest for energy applications, and is typically accomplished by optical excitation of semiconductor materials. A research team has developed a new ...

Gold nanoparticle chains confine light to the nanoscale

Oct 29, 2014

A multidisciplinary team at the Centre d'Elaboration de Matériaux et d'Etudes Structurales (CEMES, CNRS), working in collaboration with physicists in Singapore and chemists in Bristol (UK), have shown that ...

Self-assembly of layered membranes

Oct 28, 2014

Techniques for creating complex nanostructured materials through self-assembly of molecules have grown increasingly sophisticated. But carrying these techniques to the biological realm has been problematic. ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.