World’s very first molecular robot can build molecules

World's first molecular robot can build molecules

The benefits of miniaturizing machinery are slew. Apart from the visible cost advantages since the material and power requirements are greatly diminished, the potential applications of miniature machinery are many. Therefore, when researchers developed a molecular robot that performs basic tasks, it’s certainly a win for science.   

The molecular robots constructed by scientists are so lil’ that if a billion of these were piled on top of each other, they would still be the size of a single grain of salt. The robots are a millionth of a millimeter in size and each of them are capable of manipulating a single molecule. They can be programmed to budge and build molecules by using a little robotic arm. Each individual robot is made up of just 150 carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, and nitrogen atoms. Chemical reactions are carried out in special solutions by the robots.

The research conducted in University of Manchester headed by Professor David Leigh was published in Nature. Leigh explained: “All matter is made up of atoms and these are the basic building blocks that form molecules. Our robot is literally a molecular robot constructed of atoms just like you can build a very ordinary robot out of Lego bricks. The robot then responds to a series of ordinary directions that are programmed with chemical inputs by a scientist.” The process is the same as the one used by scientists to make medicines from ordinary chemical building blocks. Once the robots are constructed, they are managed and operated by scientists. Chemical inputs are added which tell the robots what to do.  

Molecular robots have many titillating potential applications. They can be used for medical purposes, advanced manufacturing processes, and building molecular factories and assembly lines.

DOI: Ten.1038/nature23677


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