Directed Reconfigurable Nanomachines

Lead Research Organisation: University of Liverpool
Department Name: Chemistry

Abstract

We propose a scheme to revolutionise the synthesis of nanodevices, nanomachines, and, ultimately, functional materials via the positional assembly of molecules and nanoscale building blocks. Computer-directed actuators will be used to drive (with sub-nanometre to sub-Angstrom precision) the elements of a nanosystem along pre-defined and entirely deterministic trajectories, thereby achieving structures not accessible by mimicking natural assembly strategies alone. Linkages and bonding between the building blocks will also be initiated, modulated, and - in some cases - terminated by direct computer control. Our proposal rests on the parallel development of novel surface-bound, reconfigurable nanoscale building blocks (molecules, functionalised clusters, nanoparticles) and advanced techniques for automated assembly of matter. We focus on the generation of two major and immensely challenging functionalities for positionally-assembled nanomachines: switchable energy transduction and conformationally-driven motion. Our archetypal system comprises the following units: an energy harvester, a switchable/gateable link, and an optical or mechanical output. By arranging, configuring, and triggering these fundamental units our long-term goal is no less than the fabrication of an autonomous, abiotic nanomachine.

Publications

10 25 50

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Amabilino D (2017) Preparing macromolecular systems on surfaces: general discussion. in Faraday discussions

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Forster M (2011) Tailoring homochirality at surfaces: going beyond molecular handedness. in Journal of the American Chemical Society

 
Description Significant New Knowledge created as outlined below:
1. Directed self-assembly of surface-compatible nanoscale building blocks that are covalently tethered at a surface and can create robust 1-D strings and 2-D arrays.

2. On-surface synthesis protocols to enable different molecular building blocks to be covalently coupled together to create a multifunctional units.

3. Use of SPM techniques to interrogate molecular assemblies at the sub-molecular level in order to obtain structural/ conformational/ orientational information in order to create fundamental knowledge-base and protocols for functional positioning, direct assembly and interrogation in ultra-clean vacuum environments.

4. Creation of simple surface-based molecules that walk between two 'stations', thus establishing the first steps towards simple, surface-based molecular machines.

5.This project provided the collaborations and impetus for a public engagement grant (EP/G063257/1) to explain the concepts and technological applications of nanoscience to be imparted to school children and the general public.
Exploitation Route Beneficiaries of the work will be academics working in areas such as atomic and molecular manipulation, scanning probe microscopy, molecular machines, light harvesting systems, self-assembly, 2D materials, molecular electronics, surface science, and supramolecular chemistry.
Sectors Aerospace, Defence and Marine,Chemicals,Electronics,Healthcare,Manufacturing, including Industrial Biotechology

 
Description Nanoscale 'botttom-up' approaches will underpin future technologies in this century. This project lays down the early foundations on how functional blocks can be organised and assembled at a surface, and how they can be interrogated via scanning probe methods to understand the mechanisms driving the assembly.
First Year Of Impact 2015
Sector Education
Impact Types Societal

 
Description BBSRC
Amount £12,500,000 (GBP)
Funding ID BB/R012415/1 
Organisation Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 12/2017 
End 11/2022
 
Description EPSRC
Amount £78,751 (GBP)
Funding ID EP/H500146/1 
Organisation Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 07/2010 
End 07/2011
 
Description EPSRC
Amount £78,751 (GBP)
Funding ID EP/H500146/1 
Organisation Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 07/2010 
End 07/2011
 
Description EPSRC
Amount £413,000 (GBP)
Funding ID EP/N51004X/1 
Organisation Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 01/2016 
End 12/2017
 
Description ERDF
Amount £1,995,198 (GBP)
Funding ID X03168PR 
Organisation Government of the UK 
Department Department for Communities & Local Government (DCLG)
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 10/2013 
End 06/2015
 
Description European Commission (EC)
Amount £402,363 (GBP)
Funding ID FP7-PEOPLE-ITN-2008 238804 
Organisation European Commission 
Sector Public
Country European Union (EU)
Start 01/2010 
End 12/2013
 
Description European Commission (EC)
Amount £402,363 (GBP)
Funding ID FP7-PEOPLE-ITN-2008 238804 
Organisation European Commission 
Sector Public
Country European Union (EU)
Start 01/2010 
End 12/2013
 
Description Innovate UK
Amount £320,000 (GBP)
Funding ID TS/L007932/1 
Organisation Innovate UK 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 09/2014 
End 08/2016
 
Description RCUK
Amount £168,730 (GBP)
Funding ID EP/G063257/1 
Organisation Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 08/2009 
End 01/2013
 
Description RCUK
Amount £168,730 (GBP)
Funding ID EP/G063257/1 
Organisation Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 08/2009 
End 01/2013
 
Description STFC Laboratories (Grouped)
Amount £39,000 (GBP)
Funding ID 88489 
Organisation Science and Technologies Facilities Council (STFC) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 12/2010 
End 05/2015
 
Description Maxwell Lecture on' The Molecular World Through the Looking Glass', King's College London, 2011, 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Undergraduate students
Results and Impact Delivered a Maxwell Lecture on' The Molecular World Through the Looking Glass', King's College London, 2011, to explain nanoscale molecular phenomena.
'The Maxwell Society Lectures are a series of lectures on topical scientific issues, aimed at undergraduates and a general audience'
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2011
 
Description • Thinking and Science: 12 Perspectives on 'Forschen für Morgen Wissenschaft', University of Heidelberg, Germany, 2011. 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Undergraduate students
Results and Impact Delivered a Public lecture as part: 12 Perspectives on 'Forschen für Morgen Wissenschaft', University of Heidelberg, Germany, 2011.

Description of the series taken from the University of Heidelberg website (http://www.uni-heidelberg.de/gleichstellungsbeauftragte/625-forschenfuermorgen.html) is given below:

'Research for Tomorrow: 12 Responses from 12 Academic Disciplines.
Under this joint title, the twelve Faculties of the University have invited women scholars and scientists to come to Heidelberg and speak about their subjects. In the course of the 625th anniversary year, 12 renowned representatives of specific fields will be reporting on their research and addressing a topic of interest to the respective Faculty.

The fascination exerted by research is not merely a matter of the findings produced. The personalities of the people to whom we owe those findings are just as intriguing. Our interest focuses this year on the female "greats" in present-day academic endeavour. The 625th anniversary is also a celebration of the presence of women researchers at the University. This tradition is a venerable one indeed, dating back 111 years.

Our aim is to make unusual research achievements accessible to a wider public. This series of lectures is angled at colleagues, students, members of the University and all those who are curious to see where front-edge science and humanities are heading'.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2011
URL http://www.uni-heidelberg.de/gleichstellungsbeauftragte/625-forschenfuermorgen.html