Wednesday, March 24, 2004

Going Up?
In an elegant bit of nanoscale engineering, chemists at the University of California at Los Angeles have designed and built what must be the world's tiniest elevator, a molecular platform on three legs that can be raised or lowered on command.

The device, created by J.Fraser Stoddart, a professor of organic chemistry, and colleagues, is about two and a half nanometers high, and the platform moves less than a nanometer up and down. A nanometer is one-billionth of a meter, or about a 25-millionth of an inch.

Although the elevator is more complex and organized than other so-called molecular machines, Stoddart said the work, which is described in the current issue of the journal Science, was only an 'extremely incremental' step toward developing useful molecular-scale devices that might, for example, function as drug-delivery systems. The elevator or something like it, he said, might someday serve as a valve, opening and closing a tiny cavity to allow a few drug molecules to reach a cell.


Post a Comment

<< Home