Washington, April 16 : Researchers at the UAB Research Park have announced the creation of the first thermal nanomotor that is propelled by changes in temperature.
The researchers have revealed that the carbon nanotube, which is capable of transporting cargo and rotating like a conventional motor, is a million times smaller than the head of a needle.
They say that their research may pave the way for new nanometric devices that would be capable of carrying out mechanical tasks, and could be applied to the fields of biomedicine or new materials.
The research team has revealed that the "nanotransporter" consists of a carbon nanotube, a cylindrical molecule formed by carbon atoms, covered with a shorter concentric nanotube which can move back and forth or act as a rotor.
According to them, a metal cargo can be added to the shorter mobile tube, which could then transport this cargo from one end to the other of the longer nanotube or rotate around its axis.
The group says that movements of the nanotransporter could be controlled by applying different temperatures at the two ends of the long nanotube.
The shorter tube moves from the warmer to the colder area, and is similar to how air moves around a heater, the group says.
The movements along the longer tube can be controlled with a precision of less than the diameter of an atom, the team adds.
The researchers claim that they are the first to create a nanoscale motor that can use changes in temperature to generate and control movements.
They say that the ability to control objects at nanometre scale can be extremely useful for future applications in nanotechnology, such as in designing nanoelectromechanical systems with great technological potential in the fields in biomedicine and new materials.
The research has been published in the online journal Science Express.