Watching Formula One race is one of the most thrilling and exciting experiences and you get goose bumps when hear loud vroom vrooms of the car. But how about a car race, where you can witness vehicles 100 times smaller than a DNA molecule, 30,000 times thinner than the width of a human hair and 1 million times smaller than a millimetre? Interesting, Isn’t it?
Well, scientists are gearing up to organise the first Nanocar Race in the world, which will take place next month in France. The race will witness tiny molecular machines giving a tough fight to each other. The track will be a minuscule racecourse made of gold atoms.
Who is organising the Nanocar Race?
The National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS) is organising the international molecule-car race in France.
How the molecule-sized cars work?
The molecule-sized cars consist of a few atoms. Minute electrical pulses will power these tiny cars throughout the race, which will last for 36 hours. The nanocars will navigate the racecourse, that measures a maximum of 100 nanometres in length.
A unique microscope has been located at CNRS's CEMES research centre in Toulouse. The machines will square off beneath the four tips of the microscope.
World's first Nanocar Race:
First and foremost a scientific and technological challenge, the race will be broadcast live on the Nanocar Race channel on YouTube.
Purpose of Nanocar Race:
According to researchers the Nanocar Race is more than just a competition as its objective is to advance research in the observation and control of molecule-machines.
An international scientific experiment, the Nanocar Race will be conducted in real time and in the meantime, researchers will aim to test the performance of molecule-machines and the scientific instruments used to control them.
Future of molecular machinery:
Such molecular machinery may be used in future in the manufacturing of common machines – atom-by-atom construction of electronic circuits, atom-by-atom deconstruction of industrial waste, capture of energy etc.
Hence, the researchers will get a unique opportunity to implement cutting-edge techniques for the simultaneous observation and independent manoeuvring of such nano-machines.
Scientists faced several challenges in organising the Nanocar Race. Selecting the racecourse was a challenge as it must accommodate all types of molecule-cars, while adapting the scanning tunnelling microscope was also difficult, researchers said.
In order to participate in this race, the participating teams also had to face several daunting tasks such as depositing and visualising the molecules beneath the microscope. Also they had to meet numerous criteria like the molecules' structure and form of propulsion.
The four teams:
Four teams will be participating at the 4-tip microscope's starting line on April 28 for the 36-hour race in Toulouse. The challenges facing researchers in the race will be so many steps forward in novel fields in chemistry and physics.
The CEMES-CNRS microscope is the only one in the world allowing four different experimenters to work on the same surface. The development of such multi-tip microscopes will enable synchronising a great number of molecule-machines in order to increase capacity, for instance for storing energy or capturing it from a hot metallic surface.