Solid state nanomotor uses light as fuel

nanotechnology

Technological Innovation Website Editor – 07/28/2022

s state nanomotor

The light-powered nanomotor.
[Imagem: University of Texas at Austin]

First solid-state nanomotor

One of the most promising areas of nanotechnology is the construction of tiny engines that can drive nano-machines and replace some of the energy sources we use today.

While many interesting results have been achieved over the last few years, all previous versions of these motors, including a very recent electrically driven DNA motor, are immersed in some sort of solution – and motors that only run in liquids have many performance limitations. use.

Now, researchers have created the first solid-state nanomotor that can still be powered solely by light.

For this, the team used microelectronics technologies, building the nanomotor on a chip, on which a thin layer of phase change material is deposited. When exposed to light, this material undergoes a local, reversible change from a solid phase to a quasi-liquid phase – not liquid enough for it to “run off” and cease to function. This phase change reduces the frictional force and drives the motor to rotate.

nanoworld control

The new motor, which measures less than 100 nanometers in width and spins loosely on its solid substrate, could serve as a fuelless, gearless motor to convert light into mechanical energy for various solid-state micro/nano-electromechanical systems – these systems are known as MEMS (micro scale) and NEMS (nano scale).

“Nanomotors help us precisely control the nanoworld and create new things that we want for our real world,” said Jingang Li of the University of Texas at Austin, USA.

Researchers envision these engines powering a variety of things. The spinning motion can pick up dust and other particles, making it useful for air quality measurement. They could also trigger drug delivery devices in the human body or pump liquids inside microlabs. And, of course, boost minivehicles and minirobs.

Bibliography:

Article: Opto-Thermocapillary Nanomotors on Solid Substrates
Authors: Jingang Li, Pavana Siddhartha Kollipara, Ya Liu, Kan Yao, Yaoran Liu, Yuebing Zheng
Magazine: ACS Nano
Vol.: 16, 6, 8820-8826
DOI: 10.1021/acsnano.1c09800

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