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Jon Lebkowsky, 31 Oct 05
Nanocar photo by Y. Shira, Rice University

Clever Rice University scientists built a single-molecule nanocar or "Buckymobile" that has rotating wheels, a chassis, and axles... but no cd player. "Its wheels are hollow spheres composed entirely of carbon atoms, known to chemists as buckminsterfullerenes (named for the inventor Buckminster Fuller), or buckyballs for short." Says Kevin F. Kelly, an assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering, "Proving that we were rolling – not slipping and sliding – was one of the most difficult parts of this project.” [Link]

I'm looking forward to the nanoNASCAR races...

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'm looking forward to the nanoNASCAR races...

You know people just go to those to see the nano crashes ...

Yes, obvious joke. Someone had to say it.

Posted by: Brian on 31 Oct 05

Does it come with a cup holder?

Posted by: wintermane on 31 Oct 05

Alas, Richard Smalley, a discoverer of buckyballs, cruised on to the next dimension last week. Kinda young...

Posted by: Deanna on 31 Oct 05

This little car chassis will certainly be very useful in giving us data about the forces involved at that level. Demostrating that the wheels actually rotate rather than slide across the surface was probably very tricky to figure out.

But another thing to realize here is that it took the Rice Team 8 years to figure out ways to chemically synthesize these things in large numbers reliably without too many side-products or useless molecules.

It points out many of the drawbacks in conventional chemical synthesis as a path towards advanced nanotechnology.

What we need is significant advances in microelectromechanical scanning probe instrumentation (Picture a huge swarm of microscopic scanning probe microscopes all "dragging and dropping" molecules in tandem.) before things like this cute little car can become commonplace. That was the sort of thing Feynman was thinking about in his "Plenty of Room at the Bottom" speech.

Posted by: Pace Arko on 31 Oct 05



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