Researchers Supercharge Nanomotors With Rocket Fuel


Chicago (IL) - Building nanomachines is among the most fascinating projects of miniaturization these days. Researchers at Arizona State University claim they have developed sub-microscopic nanomotors that are ten times more powerful than the engines that available today. The result: Nanomachines with these new engines are twice as fast.

Other than existing nanomotors that are made with gold and platinum nanowires and use hydrogen peroxide fuel for self-propulsion, the new motors are built with platinum and carbon nanotubes and are powered by a fuel that uses hydrazine, a type of rocket fuel, as an additive.

The project group, which will provide details of these motors in the May 27 issue of ACS Nano, claims that the modification is enough to put nanomotors into practical use: So far, nanomotors have delivered a speed of about 10 micrometers per second and have been considered to be too slow for real world applications. The use of carbon nanotubes increases the speed to 60 micrometers per second, while hydrazine boost the performance to 94 - 200 micrometers per second (which is about 13 - 28 inches per hour), the researchers said. One micrometer is about 1/25,000 of an inch or almost 100 times smaller than the width of a human hair.

A video of the performance of these nanomachines can be downloaded here.