The American Chemical Society Petroleum Research Fund has awarded a grant to study the development of molecular gears for use in future molecular machines. From an Austin College news release “Chemist awarded $50,000 grant“
Dr. Stephanie Gould, assistant professor of chemistry at Austin College, has been awarded a $50,000 grant from the American Chemical Society to further her research on solid-state nanogears. …
Gould’s research, “Synthesis of New Tunable Porous Coordination Materials to Demonstrate Geared Motion in Solid-State Materials,” focuses on building molecular “gears” for future use in nanotechnology.
“I’m trying to move our world from large scale machines, like bicycles, to molecular-scale machines, moving atoms at a time,” she said. Just like a mechanical gear, these molecular gears will have cogs that will turn and fit together.
“The smaller you can make a machine,” she said, “the more advanced the applications you can envision and create.”
The research is on the cutting-edge of solid-state chemistry. While gears that move in liquids exist, these would be the first crystal-based gears. Possible future uses could include highly targeted nanobots to deliver a cancer drug directly to malignant cells, protecting the healthy cells from damage.
It almost sounds like science-fiction. “We’re trying to figure out how much of science-fiction is real,” Gould said with a smile.
Dr. Gould’s research is apparently a continuation of her postdoctoral research at the University of California, Berkeley. Work on the rotational dynamics of certain metal-organic frameworks was published in 2008 [abstract].