The Green Buggy has a very complicated chemical name (10 lines...). The Toulouse team call it the overcyclized nanovehicle. The formula contains exactly 300 atoms : C184H116.
Each wheel of the Toulouse molecule-car is equipped with an easy rotatable group complemented by a molecular ratchet chemical group which will show its asymmetric effect when adsorbed on the surface. A tunneling current passing through such a group is expected to trigger the rotation of one wheel and therefore for the Green Buggy to move at least by 0.3 nm using bias voltage pulse.
The molecule has been synthesized following some Diels-Alder and Knœvenagel condensations.
This could be seen as a Lego(TM) construction with the size of the molecule increasing at each step as shown on the figure. The final step is the one-pot connection of the 4 wheels at the same time with a quadruple Sonogashira coupling.
Its chassis is strongly curved which minimize its interaction with the surface. This second generation of the nanovehicle from Toulouse should be faster than the first generation (but not tested yet).
The synthesis needed 6 months of full work for a PhD student and was achieved and published in 20121.
1Synthesis of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon-based nanovehicles equiped with triptycene wheels, H.P. Jacquot de Rouville, R. Garbage, R.E. Cook, A.R. Pujol, A.M. Sirven, G. Rapenne, Chem. Eur. J. 2012, 18, 3023-3031.
This is the first edition and we don't know at all how the behaviour of our nanovehicle will be compared to our competitors but we are confident anyway.
This research is not supported by a specific contract of research and only by sponsors which can be considered as a new way of supporting research. The French ANR Action and the European ICT-FET submitted project MEMO will hopefully open the path to continue single molecule mechanics research including single molecule motors design and chemical synthesis, the measurement of the motive power and how to drive better a molecule-vehicle on a surface by tunneling inelastic effect and may be one day at the membrane surface of a living cell.