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Chemists Create Electric Nanocar

Electron-powered molecular machine has four-wheel drive

3 min read

9 November 2011—Inside our bodies, a remarkable set of molecular machines speeds along our internal processes, ferrying goods where needed, dividing cells, and contracting muscles. The challenge for nanoengineers, says chemist Ben Feringa, "is to design a completely artificial system that can do the same thing as these biological molecules."

In a step toward that goal, Feringa and colleagues at the University of Groningen, in the Netherlands, have constructed a molecule that looks and seems to move like a four-wheeled car. Feringa’s team was responsible for the first light-driven molecular motor, but their latest creation is propelled forward by energetic electrons shot from a scanning tunneling microscope (STM).

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The Transistor at 75

The past, present, and future of the modern world’s most important invention

2 min read
A photo of a birthday cake with 75 written on it.
Lisa Sheehan

Seventy-five years is a long time. It’s so long that most of us don’t remember a time before the transistor, and long enough for many engineers to have devoted entire careers to its use and development. In honor of this most important of technological achievements, this issue’s package of articles explores the transistor’s historical journey and potential future.

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