Created the world's first "molecular robot", able to build molecules

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2017-09-23 21:30:06

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Scientists from the University of Manchester have created the world's first "molecular robot", able to perform tasks at the molecular level, including the construction of other molecules. These tiny robots, the size of which does not exceed one millionth of a millimeter, can be programmed on movement and the construction of molecular cargo using tiny robotic manipulator. Each robot is capable to manipulate individual molecules and consists of 150 atoms of hydrogen, oxygen and nitrogen. For comparison, it is necessary to fold a billion billion of these robots so that they become the same size with a grain of salt.

The Robots are working, transferring chemical reaction in special solutions that can be managed and which can be programmed to perform basic tasks. In the future such robots can be used for medical purposes, in industry and even to create molecular factories, and pipelines. The study was published in Nature on September 21.

Professor David Lee, who led the research at the school of chemistry at the University, explains: "All matter is composed of atoms which are the building blocks that form the molecule. Our robot is literally a molecular robot made of atoms like ordinary robot from LEGO bricks. The robot responds to a series of simple commands that are programmed by introductory chemical scientists.

"It is similar to the robots that assemble cars at the factory. They raise the bar and position it so that it can be correctly glue and build the body of the car. Thus, like the robot in the factory, our molecular version can be programmed to different positioning and riveting of the components, creating different products, only on a much smaller scale at the molecular level."

The advantages of the size of these machines is that they significantly reduce the demand for materials that can accelerate and improve drug discovery and significantly reduce power requirements and to accelerate the miniaturization of other products. The possible use of molecular robots and so-called nanoassemblers, which can be created based on them, are extremely wide.

"Molecular robotics is a high degree of miniaturization of the machines — says Professor Lee. – Our goal is to create and make the smallest possible machines. This is only the beginning, but we believe that in 10-20 years the molecular robots are commonly used in molecular factories and Assembly lines."

While the construction and operation of such a tiny little machine is a very complex process, the methods used by the team If based on simple chemical processes.

"the Robots are going and function with the use of chemicals. The science of how atoms and molecules react with each other and how large molecules are assembled from those that are smaller".

"the same way scientists create medicines and plastics from simple chemical building blocks. Once the nanorobots are collected, they can be controlled by injecting chemicals that tell the robots what to do and when, like in a computer program".

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