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Researchers Create a Nano Car With Molecular 4WD

The vehicle, just 4 nm by 2 nm in size, carries the vision of a microscopic transport vehicle that could be traveling in extremely small spaces in the future.

According to the researchers, the small car travels via four electrically-driven wheels in an "almost straight line over a copper surface." The nano car consists of just a single molecule itself. While the "car" already works, it has two major downsides. It cannot change directions and it can only travel forward and can't go back. Also, it needs to be refueled after every half revolution of its molecular wheels. To do so, the scientists supply a voltage of electricity via the tip of a scanning tunneling microscope.

It is fascinating, however, that the scientists observed that there are two axles which enable two wheels to rotate in the same direction. The options are to turn both axles in the same direction or in two different direction in which the car is at a standstill. Apparently, the direction of the car cannot be changed once the car is set in motion. At this time, the nanocar is considered to be a proof of concept. For the next step, the researchers want to show that such a car can be driven by light, which could be sourced, for example, from UV lasers.