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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A Circuit to Boost Battery Life

Digital low-dropout voltage regulators will save time, money, and power

11 min read
Image of a battery held sideways by pliers on each side.
Edmon de Haro

YOU'VE PROBABLY PLAYED hundreds, maybe thousands, of videos on your smartphone. But have you ever thought about what happens when you press “play”?

The instant you touch that little triangle, many things happen at once. In microseconds, idle compute cores on your phone's processor spring to life. As they do so, their voltages and clock frequencies shoot up to ensure that the video decompresses and displays without delay. Meanwhile, other cores, running tasks in the background, throttle down. Charge surges into the active cores' millions of transistors and slows to a trickle in the newly idled ones.

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