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New rotors could help develop nanoscale generators

MoleculesIn collaboration with the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing, scientists have investigated the rotation of molecules on a fixed surface to understand how they may help in the development of future rotor-based machinery at nanoscale level.

The research focused on rotating magnetic fields, which play an important part in machines like electric motors and generators. The difficulty for technology at the atomic scale is to replicate this property with rotors the size of small molecules. A number of rotating molecules have already been identified, but so far molecules have not been used to create rotating magnetic fields.

The researchers used a gold metal surface to anchor phtalocyanine molecules, which have a metallic centre, in a large array. The anchor point, a single gold atom on top of the gold surface attached to a nitrogen atom of the molecule, allowed the molecules to rotate just off-centre.

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