The water was the perfect lubricant for nanomachines





Dutch researchers found that the machine the size of a single molecule move much faster if they are to apply the lubricant. Surprisingly, the best lubricant for their “wheels” turned out to be water . The study was published in the scientific journal Nature Chemistry on September 1, 2013.

Researchers from the University of Amsterdam have determined the speed of the two nano-machines or molecular machines created artificially by using nanotechnology. They studied the molecular wheel and molecular motor-driven light. Both machines are formed by several tens of atoms.

In their experiment, the researchers used the method of nuclear spin resonance and ultrafast lasers. Nanomachines dissolved in an organic solvent called acetonitrile. It was observed that after adding a small amount of water molecular machines started to move with a new velocity. Three percent of the water was enough to increase the speed of twice.

Dilution solution analogues of water gave a positive result, but with less beneficial effect than in the first case. Butanol, which in its properties occupied an intermediate position between the water and lubricating oil, strangely slowed experimental machines.

However, so far it is not clear why the water is the best lubricant for nanomachines. Researchers believe that the lubricating effect is associated with hydrogen (weak) links between groups of atoms. In order for the machine to budge, to temporarily break the hydrogen bond. However, this is not so simple. Typically, half destroyed communication quickly re-connect with each other, thereby preventing movement of the beginning of nanomachines. Interacting with water molecules, the two halves can form new hydrogen bonds. As a result, the hydrogen bonds between the moving parts of the machine remain longer destroyed – the internal friction decreases, the velocity increases.

Water molecules are small, mobile and easy to form hydrogen bonds, which makes them an ideal candidate for the role of the accelerator nanomachines.

It can be said that the discovery was made ​​by accident. experiment began when researchers found that the velocity of molecular motors depends on the residual water in the solvent. Repeated opening of the tube with the solution it is flagged and dissolved a small amount of water from the air. Different tubes have different amounts of water. The more water, the greater the effect.

The discovery is important for the design and optimization of the next generation of nanomachines. The use of such machines are wide ranging molecular computers and finishing surfaces with variable properties. Moreover, the hydrogen bonds present in naturally occurring biological molecular machines where water is also used as a lubricant.

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