France prepares the first race of molecular “nanomobiles” on the gold plate

03/27/2017
Editorial staff

France prepares the first race of molecular “nanomobiles” on the gold plate

On April 28, scientists will hold a molecular machine competition for the first time. Arrivals at a distance of 100 nm will be broadcast live.

The science
#cars
#races
#nanotechnology
# scanning electron microscope

cars0
© Wikipedia

The race will be grueling – the competition will last up to 38 hours, during which the “nanomobiles” of the four teams will have to cover about 100 nm. A polished gold backing will act as an autodrome. Fireballs will move along it in parallel “snakes” with bends of 20 nm in size and a total length of 100 nm. The weather conditions are known in advance: deep vacuum (10-eight Pa) and a temperature of -268 ° C. The first “nanomobile” to arrive at the finish line will be the winner.


Each NanoCars Race is a complex molecular machine made up of several hundred atoms. There are no engines on board: both movement and observation of it will provide narrow streams of electrons of a scanning tunneling microscope. It is specially modified for racing to be able to drive four “nanomobiles” at the same time. Autodrom will be located in Toulouse, home to the Center for Materials Development and Structural Research (CEMES) of the French National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS).

© CNRS

Each of the “fireballs” will have its own section of the gold plate. There are no pit stops for changing the needle of the tunnel microscope. Replacement of the “car” can be made only by agreement with the organizers of the competition. This is quite possible if a long-term flow of electrons breaks the bonds in the “racing” molecule, and one more will have to be brought to the competition.

Of the six finalists of the NanoCars Race, four teams will take part in the competition on April 28. While the list has not yet been finalized, all applicants have shown great ingenuity in the design of their cars, from the Y-shaped Swiss “nanomobile” to the SUV-like with large wheels – from the participants from the United States. However, whatever the structure of the molecule, scientists will adapt it for the most accurate and fast movement, cornering and controllability.

© CNRS

The organizer and inspirer of the races was a scientist at the French National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS) Christian Joachim. Of course, he does not expect the popularity of Formula 1, but the competition will accelerate progress in methods of manipulating nanoscale objects, individual molecules and atoms. And nobody canceled the excitement of the struggle – on the NanoCars Race website there will be a live broadcast. It’s time to choose your favorites.

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The science
#cars
#races
#nanotechnology
# scanning electron microscope

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