Jim Tour has a new set of wheels – well, his nanocar does. It seems as though fullerene wheels are a thing of the past and carboranes are the way forward (just as Tour anticipated at the end of a JACS paper earlier this year, see: Planes, trains and nanomobiles). In a recent article, “En Route to a Motorized Nanocar”, published in Organic Letters, Tour reports a new nanocar that not only has wheels, but now has an engine too!
The latest model to roll off the nano-production line incorporates one of Ben Feringa’s unidirectional molecular motors (see this 2005 article in Nature) and is demonstrated to operate in solution. Surfaces, however, are a different matter, and as the authors themselves admit, this motor may not be powerful enough to drive the nanocar across a surface. The eventual goal of driving a nanocar across a surface in a controlled manner is still a distant prospect and the authors have a long (and perhaps winding) road ahead of them. Whether this concept car will ever be anything more than just that, remains to be seen.
So, the nanocar has new wheels and an engine, but more importantly, when will the nanocar be fitted out with a CD changer and furry dice? And just how many cup-holders will there be? – I’m sure that Nanoputians can get quite thirsty on long road trips…
Stuart Cantrill (Associate Editor, Nature Nanotechnology)