Nov 17, 2011
Chris Weiss

World’s Smallest Electric Car

If you had to guess what the world’s smallest electric car is, you’d probably think of a tiny single passenger or 1+1 like the Audi Urban Concept. Maybe an electric transporter like the GM ENV.

But you’d actually have to think much, much smaller to come up with the correct answer. Scientists in Norway recently created an “electric car” that is but a single molecule.

This electric car won’t get you to the grocery store, but it is an interesting development in science. The molecule is made up of four separate branches that act like wheels. Scientists used a very fine metal point from what’s called a scanning tunnelling microscope. The point ends in a single atom and when it’s placed near the car-like molecule some of its electrons jump to the molecule, causing the “wheels” to change shape and move the car forward.

So it’s basically a microscopic electric car with four in-wheel motors and an external power source. Oh, and it only traveled six billionths of a meter in the experiment, making the 73 miles of the Nissan Leaf look pretty damn good. Talk about range anxiety.

While this car isn’t that useful at the moment, it is part of a greater research movement to create nano versions of existing machines and systems. Right now such molecular machines are purely for research and any potential uses aren’t likely to materialize until the distant future.

Tibor Kudernac, a researcher University of Twente researcher that served as lead author of the paper, told the BBC: “If you look around, in all biological systems are a vast number of molecular machines or rotors based on proteins that do important things very well; muscle contraction is based on protein motors. This is a simple demonstration that we can achieve anything like that. It’s an important observation and I think it will motivate people to think about it perhaps a bit more from an application point of view.”

Source : BBC

1 Comment

  • Great article very interesting.

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