Dec 19, 2008

Presenting: The World’s Smallest Car reports that a professor of chemistry at Rice University has created a car slightly wider than a strand of DNA. Jame Tour’s nanovehicle is 3nm along and 2nm wide. “It rolls on buckyballs, which consist of 60 atoms pure carbon formed like a sphere, includes a chassis with an engine, a pivoting suspension.” Sweet ride! I mean, it does move, right? Absotinylutely! “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. [Are you in good hands?] The light motion works on the principle of photo activation.” But don’t get to thinking that this bad boy is ready for prime time. “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… 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.” Don’t you hate it when that happens? »