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The World's Smallest Motor

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posted on Apr, 13 2005 @ 05:05 PM

watch it run!!!

Scientists recently unveiled the tiniest electric motor ever built. You could stuff hundreds of them into the period at the end of this sentence.

One day a similar engine might power a tiny mechanical doctor that would travel through your body in the ultimate house call.

The motor works by shuffling atoms between two molten metal droplets in a carbon nanotube.

One droplet is even smaller than the other. When a small electric current is applied to the droplets, atoms slowly eek off the larger droplet and join the smaller one. The small droplet grows – but never gets as big as the other droplet – and eventually bumps into the large droplet. As they touch, the large droplet rapidly sops up the atoms it had previously sloughed off. This quick shift in energy produces a power stroke.

The technique exploits the fact that surface tension -- the tendency of atoms or molecules to resist separating -- becomes more important at small scales. Surface tension is the same thing that allows some insects to walk on water.

this is VERY cool!!!

"You could stuff hundreds of them into the period at the end of this sentence." WOW!!!


VIDEO: The first nanoscale motor, built in 2003, in a series of scanning electron microscope pictures. A gold rotor turned on a carbon nanotube shaft.

VIDEO: In 2004, the same researchers developed a nanoscale conveyor. A small electrical current applied to a carbon nanotube moved indium particles along like auto parts on an assembly line.

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