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Gizmorama - Researchers build synchronized molecular motors
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Gizmorama - May 16, 2016
It seems like every scientific break through is about making things smaller. Today we have two stories for you that have a little to do with that.
Learn about this interesting story and more from the scientific community in today's issue.
Until Next Time,
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*--- Researchers build synchronized molecular motors ---*
ATHENS, Ohio - Scientists have designed molecular motors capable of synchronization and communication.
Researchers say synchronized nanoscale engines could have a variety of practical applications in computers, photonics and electronics.
"Our goal is to mimic natural biological machines by creating synthetic machines we can control," Saw-wai Hla, a professor of physics and astronomy at Ohio University, said in a news release.
Hla and his research partners were able to coax 500 molecular motors into coordinated movement via a small volt of electricity sent through the tip of a scanning tunneling microscope. The motors moved simultaneously and smoothly in the same direction.
Scientists can fit 44,000 billion of the tiny engines into a single square centimeter.
"One of the goals of nanotechnology is to assemble billions of nanomachines packed into a tiny area that can be operated in a synchronized manner to transport information or to coherently transfer energy to multiple destinations within nanometer range," Hla explained.
The molecular motors are made up of a lower stationary deck, or stator, and an upper rotating deck, or rotor. The upper deck possesses eight sulfur atoms that serve as atomic glue and bind to gold and copper. A europium atom acts as a ball bearing, connecting the stator and rotor.
The motors' coordination is made possible by a dipole -- a negative and positive charged end -- that stretches across each of two rotors. The feature also allows the collection of nanomotors to form a ferroelectric system -- a system featuring spontaneous electric polarization, a quality prized in certain electronic devices.
In their experiments, the researchers found that the molecular motors are most coordinated when arranged in a hexagonal pattern.
Researchers detailed their discovery this week in the journal Nature Nanotechnology.
*-- New technology allows scientists to trap electrons for quantum computing --*
CHICAGO - Researchers have made a significant step in the development of a complete quantum computer by trapping and manipulating the ideal quantum bit -- the electron.
Scientists at the University of Chicago were able to isolate electrons by coaxing them to levitate just above the surface of liquid helium that had been cooled to extremely low temperatures.
"A key aspect of this experiment is that we have integrated trapped electrons with more well-developed superconducting quantum circuits," lead author Ge Yang explained in a news release.
The breakthrough was published this week in the journal Physical Review X.
"It's a very important step along the way to being able to study single electrons and make those electrons work as quantum bits," added co-author David Schuster, an assistant professor of physics at Chicago.
Electrons are ideal carriers of quantum information, but their potential is ruined when they're interfered with as they travel through various materials. When they levitate, however, they're unencumbered quantum computing potential can be realized.
Researchers have known about helium's unique effect on electrons, but this is the first time they've taken advantage of it for the purposes of quantum computing.
"We're holding them in a superconducting structure that allows us to interact with them, on much faster timescales, and much more sensitively," Schuster explained.
Researchers incorporated the helium and trapped electrons into a resonator, which bounces an electric charge between a row of mirrors several hundred times until it's strong enough to interact with the trapped electrons and produce a quantum bit, or qubit.
The electrons are produced by a tungsten filament. They boil off and become trapped on the surface of liquid helium. Aluminum wires keep the floating electrons trapped in place as they wait to travel along the circuit, which is etched into a layer of niobium deposited atop a bed of sapphire.
Right now, researchers are working with roughly 100,000 trapped electrons -- an amount too large to control via quantum mechanics. The goal is to be able to pare that number down to one.
"We're not there yet, said Schuster. "But we're pretty close."
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