Developers of nano-car takes top science award

December 19, 2008

(ChattahBox) — James Tour, a professor of chemistry at Rice University, the inventor of a car slightly wider than a strand of DNA took the top prize in nanotechnologies this week. The car which has a length of 3nm and a width of 2nm won the Foresight Institute Feynman Prize for experimental nanotechnology. It rolls on buckyballs, which consist of 60 atoms pure carbon formed like a sphere, includes a chassis with an engine, a pivoting suspension.

The nanocars are 95 percent carbon by weight, with a smattering of hydrogen and oxygen atoms to keep them soluble during manufacturing. They are manufactured in a 20-step process similar to the way many drugs are synthesized from small molecules in closed reactors. They are then suspended in toluene gas and spun cast onto the gold surface.

While self-assembling machines have been theorized for years, it took Tour and his team eight years to build the car. One of the significant challenges was attaching the wheels because the buckyballs had the adverse affect of shutting down the binding property — the palladium reaction — used to form the rest of the vehicle.

Tour and his team of postgraduate and postdoctoral researchers not only built a car, but also constructed a nanotruck capable of carrying a payload. Asked why he did it, Tour’s answer was simple: so that we can someday construct buildings and other large objects with molecular-size vehicles.

Tour’s team has not only been able to build nanovehicles, but it has also been able to power them through two methods: heat and light. By heating the surface that the cars are on, the team is able to excite the molecules in the vehicle, and they move forward in a straight line until they hit an object. The light motion works on the principle of photo activation.

Tour pointed out the significance of the work saying until now, engineers have built things by taking larger objects and cutting them down to make smaller ones,  For example, trees are cut down to make tables, and as such, large silicon wafers are cut away to make transistors. But in the future, things will be built not from the top down, but the bottom up — as in nature.


One Response to “Developers of nano-car takes top science award”

  1. anubhavkundra on December 30th, 2008 3:08 am


    I want to say this car is very beautiful.I asked this car launched on what

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