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Nanotechnology leading to molecular machines

Richard Jones and commenters bring our attention to a number of enticing research papers on the use of catalysis and molecular motors to produce movement. One paper mentioned sounds particularly useful: an overview of progress on Synthetic Molecular Motors and Mechanical Machines. From the abstract:

The widespread use of controlled molecular-level motion in key natural processes suggests that great rewards could come from bridging the gap between the present generation of synthetic molecular systems, which by and large rely upon electronic and chemical effects to carry out their functions, and the machines of the macroscopic world, which utilize the synchronized movements of smaller parts to perform specific tasks.

This is a scientific area of great contemporary interest and extraordinary recent growth, yet the notion of molecular-level machines dates back to a time when the ideas surrounding the statistical nature of matter and the laws of thermodynamics were first being formulated.

Here we outline the exciting successes in taming molecular-level movement thus far, the underlying principles that all experimental designs must follow, and the early progress made towards utilizing synthetic molecular structures to perform tasks using mechanical motion. [Emphasis added]

We also highlight some of the issues and challenges that still need to be overcome.

Exciting indeed. I tried to find a preprint online without success, so I looked at purchasing the article online from the publisher, Wiley Interscience, which appears to own the journal Angewandte Chemie. Fortunately, they will indeed sell the full text; unfortunately, they want US$25 for one 24-hour period of online access to that one article.

Now, I am a big fan of Wiley Interscience, as they have published many nanotech books including Nanosystems. However, this is an absurd price. On top of that, it requires a registration process and a credit card purchase, which means waiting for a confirmation email, logging back in, finding the abstract again, and typing in lots of info including postal address. A huge hassle and a high price, for 24-hour access to one article.

Folks, this just won’t do. If the article cost $1 or $2, and I could pay easily (PayPal?), that would be okay. The research in question was probably paid for by the taxpayers where the researchers are located (UK and Italy), and now even they have to pay this high amount to view the results. It is this kind of situation that is driving the open access movement, which for-profit publishers such as Wiley probably dislike.

Here’s a suggestion to for-profit scientific and technical publishers: find a way to deliver online use conveniently, at a reasonable price, soon. Otherwise, open access will keep gaining momentum. (It will anyway, but not as quickly.) This is meant as friendly advice. —Christine

10 Responses to “Nanotechnology leading to molecular machines”

  1. John Joyce Says:

    Well you gave them valuable advice and free of chjarge, they will like that free of charge bit but not the advice. There response will be “we are not a charity, we are just trying to get back our costs and a nominal profit”
    At least you tried .

  2. Anonymous Says:

    Agree with you totally Christine. Though having skimmed through the article it is one serious chemistry read.. 120 pages in total…. Professor Leigh’s work is pretty impressive.

  3. Dave L Says:

    I know it’s not relevant to your general point on open access, Christine, but I’m very happy to send any Nanodot reader an electronic reprint of the Angewandte Chemie review or any of our papers. Please just send me an email at And I do apologise in advance for the numbers of trees that have to be sacrificed to print it out!

  4. Charles H. Tankersley Says:

    It is a shame that so many of our research for the good of mankind has to be hidden behind copyright and patent. It seems that one of the major driving forces against progress for mankind is GREED. This is best exemplified by the drug industry in medicine and some operating systems and application in computing. SInce I do work on behalf of the elderly and disabled, many of the tools which would enable these clients to better lead productive lives on the Internet are priced prohibatively out of reach. An example is the JAWS text to speach software so many or the blind must use. And the Unix driven braile machine is unthinkable for most. I can see a need for revision of the copyright, patent and trademark laws where the needs of the general public is concerned. If only the rich can be served, then our society is doomed.

  5. ali Says:

    Though having skimmed through the article it is one serious chemistry read.. 120 pages in total

  6. Sofronio B. Ursal Says:

    I would like to know if The Lux Capital with address at 50 O’Connor Street, Ottawa, Canada is one of the firms engaged in nanotechnology, as far as your records show.

    Thank you.

  7. Christine Peterson Says:

    Sofronio — There is a website registered in Hong Kong that claims to be Lux Capital based in Ottawa, but this site looks fake to me. Do a search engine search on “Lux Capital” to see their main site, which says the company has offices in NY and San Diego, but doesn’t mention Ottawa. –Christine

  8. Nanodot: Nanotechnology News and Discussion » Blog Archive » Massive nanotechnology review resolves hard/soft dispute Says:

    [...] Here on Nanodot we mentioned earlier a nanotechnology survey article titled Synthetic Molecular Motors and Mechanical Machines by Euan Kay, David Leigh, and Francesco Zerbetto. I have a paper copy now and have to admit that it is indeed worth $25, but that the 24-hour online access offered by the publisher at that price would not be nearly enough. This tome could be a book. Presumably an online purchase enables downloading for later viewing. [...]

  9. Phillip Huggan Says:

    Thx again for the heads up Christine.
    For my purposes, hard nanotech is localized covalent bonding at UHV (1D reaction site), and soft nanotech is multiple London bonds (a 2D surface) in solution or atmosphere. I also like splitting chemical bonds up into >2eV and

  10. Sofronio B. Ursal Says:

    Thank you Christine, I appreciate your info.

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