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Archive for the 'Research' Category

Toward molecular fabrication: formation of distinct bond types by STM

Posted by Stephanie C on February 8th, 2013

Scanning probe manipulation of individual atoms and small molecules were amongst the early laboratory successes that helped bring broad scale attention to the feasibility and potential of nanoscale technologies, especially molecular fabrication. Basic manipulations of atoms and bonds by scanning probe have become familiar capabilities that follow similar protocols: the STM tip is precisely positioned [...]

Synthetic biology industrial revolution inspires hope for molecular manufacturing

Posted by Jim Lewis on February 2nd, 2013

A demonstration that most fundamental biological processes can be implemented in a test tube as efficiently as in live bacteria provides synthetic biology the tools to create a ‘new industrial revolution’, which may or may not lead to more general molecular manufacturing.

Artificial molecular machine synthesizes a small peptide

Posted by Jim Lewis on January 28th, 2013

A small molecular machine based on a rotaxane molecule autonomously added three amino acids in a programmed order to a seed tripeptide to form a hexapeptide

Controlled stepwise rotation on a single atom bearing

Posted by Jim Lewis on January 21st, 2013

Electrons from a scanning tunneling microscope tip turn a five-arm rotor connected via a single ruthenium atom bearing to a tripod anchoring the molecular motor to a gold surface.

Nanometer-scale optical positioning and focusing

Posted by Jim Lewis on January 16th, 2013

A theoretical proposal for optical tweezers and an experimental optical focusing device both depend upon electromagnetic waves trapped and guided along metal-insulator interfaces. Will these advances provide tools for manipulating molecular building blocks?

Testing and improving scaffolded DNA origami for molecular nanotechnology

Posted by Jim Lewis on December 19th, 2012

In two different sets of experiments a German research group has shown that scaffolded DNA origami can be used to assemble complex structures with precise sub-nanometer positional control, and that constant temperature reaction can greatly increase yields and decrease production times.

Two types of artificial muscle from nanotechnology

Posted by Jim Lewis on December 13th, 2012

One research group working with rotaxanes and another group working with carbon nanotubes have provided two very different solutions to the problem of producing motion via artificial muscles at different scales from the nano to the macro.

Optimal bond loads in designing molecular machines

Posted by Jim Lewis on December 11th, 2012

A study of a biological molecular machine has shown that the machine functions most effectively when it uses chemical bonds just barely strong enough to survive the power stroke of the machine.

Arbitrarily complex 3D DNA nanostructures built from DNA bricks

Posted by Jim Lewis on December 6th, 2012

A set of 32-nucleotide single strand DNA bricks was designed so that each can interact independently with four other DNA bricks so that sets of hundreds of bricks can self-assemble into arbitrarily complex 25-nm 3D shapes, each comprising 1000 8-base pair volume elements.

New strides in understanding mechanochemical reactions

Posted by Stephanie C on December 2nd, 2012

New time-resolved, high-energy Xray studies of mechanochemical (ball milling) reactions take another step toward reducing the gap between current and future machine-phase chemistry.

Nanotechnology milestone: general method for designing stable proteins

Posted by Jim Lewis on November 21st, 2012

Five proteins were designed from scratch and found to fold into stable proteins as designed, proving the ability to provide ideal, robust building blocks for artificial protein structures.

Writing a single-atom qubit in silicon

Posted by Jim Lewis on November 8th, 2012

A single-electron spin qubit on a phosphorous atom in a conventional silicon computer chip has been coherently manipulated, demonstrating the application of single atom nanotechnology to the development of a scalable platform for a quantum computer.

More complex circuits for synthetic biology lead toward engineered cells

Posted by Jim Lewis on November 6th, 2012

One possible pathway from current technology to advanced nanotechnology that will comprise atomically precise manufacturing implemented by atomically precise machinery is through adaptation and extension of the complex molecular machine systems evolved by biology. Synthetic biology, which engineers new biological systems and function not evolved in nature, is an intermediate stage along this path. An [...]

Shape may play an important role in nanoparticle-based therapeutics

Posted by Stephanie C on October 19th, 2012

Researchers from Johns Hopkins and Northwestern Universities developed a set of shape-tunable DNA-copolymer nanoparticles that incorporate a fixed amount of DNA yet display as much as 1,680-fold difference in transfection efficiency in rat liver studies. The study may shed new light on the importance of shape in nanoparticle-based drug delivery and gene therapy.

Biological molecular motors programmed to run DNA chasis

Posted by Jim Lewis on October 17th, 2012

Two types of biological molecular motors that run in opposite directions along a protein track can be used in different arrangements to either move a complex DNA cargo along the track or engage in a tug-of-war.

Metal-organic frameworks provide large molecular cages for nanotechnology

Posted by Jim Lewis on October 10th, 2012

Large molecular cages constructed from metal-organic frameworks have set a record for the greatest surface area in the least mass.

Metal-organic frameworks (MOFs) are back in the news again. A few months ago we cited the use of MOFs by Canadian chemists to self-assemble a molecular wheel on an axis in a solid material. More recently chemists at Northwestern University have used MOFs to set a world record for surface area. From “A world record for highest-surface-area materials“:

Northwestern University researchers have broken a world record by creating two new synthetic materials with the greatest amount of surface areas reported to date.

Named NU-109 and NU-110, the materials belong to a class of crystalline nanostructure known as metal-organic frameworks (MOFs) that are promising vessels for natural-gas and hydrogen storage for vehicles, and for catalysts, chemical sensing, light harvesting, drug delivery, and other uses requiring a large surface area per unit weight.

The materials’ promise lies in their vast internal surface area. If the internal surface area of one NU-110 crystal the size of a grain of salt could be unfolded, the surface area would cover a desktop. …

MOFs are composed of organic linkers held together by metal atoms, resulting in a molecular cage-like structure. The researchers believe they may be able to more than double the surface area of the materials by using less bulky linker units in the materials’ design. …

Beyond their near-term practical applications, Eric Drexler has cited MOFs as potentially useful building blocks in the molecular machine path to molecular manufacturing. Near-term applications may drive the technology development to produce more choices for molecular machine system components.
—James Lewis, PhD

Nanoparticles deliver cargo inside mitochondria

Posted by Jim Lewis on October 9th, 2012

Optimizing the size and charge of nanoparticles engineered from polymers delivers drugs directly to mitochondria, effectively treating cells with drugs for a variety of diseases.

Assembling biomolecular nanomachines: a path to a nanofactory?

Posted by Jim Lewis on October 4th, 2012

A “cut and paste” method uses an atomic force microscope to assemble protein and DNA molecules to form arbitrarily complex patterns on a surface. Developing this approach to form enzymatic assembly lines could be a path toward a general purpose nanofactory.

Measuring individual chemical bonds with noncontact-AFM

Posted by Jim Lewis on September 18th, 2012

Noncontact atomic force microscopy using a tip functionalized with a single molecule provides highly precise measurement of individual chemical bond lengths and bond orders (roughly, bond strength).

Rational design of peptoids: a route to advanced nanotechnology?

Posted by Jim Lewis on September 7th, 2012

A combination of theoretical and experimental work on peptoids, synthetic analogs of proteins, points to the ability to design peptoids with desired structures and functions.