Eco Factor: Nanomotors powered by photons might herald a new era of nano-robots.
With technology getting better and smaller with every new discovery, we are left to envision a future where minuscule robots will take up the task of everything humans can’t or don’t want to do. Researchers at the University of Florida are working on the technology required to develop such nano-robots that can do everything from surgery to clearing up clogged drains. Most importantly, the researchers focus that these robots will be powered by solar energy for maintenance-free operation.
These researchers have developed a “molecular nanomotor,” which is driven only by photons. While it is not the first photon-driven nanomotor, the almost infinitesimal device is the first built entirely with a single molecule of DNA — giving it a simplicity that increases its potential for development, manufacture and real-world applications in areas ranging from medicine to manufacturing.
In its closed form the nanomotor measures 2-5 nanometers and when in operation it extends to as long as 12 nanometers. Although the scientists say their calculations show it uses considerably more of the energy in light than traditional solar cells, the amount of force it exerts is proportional to its small size.