Register for an account

X

Enter your name and email address below.

Your email address is used to log in and will not be shared or sold. Read our privacy policy.

X

Website access code

Enter your access code into the form field below.

If you are a Zinio, Nook, Kindle, Apple, or Google Play subscriber, you can enter your website access code to gain subscriber access. Your website access code is located in the upper right corner of the Table of Contents page of your digital edition.

Technology

Nano-Nascar? Tiny Dragster Has Chassis, Axles, & Buckyball Wheels

DiscoblogBy Andrew MosemanJanuary 13, 2010 12:54 AM
rice_nanodragsterhires.jpg

Newsletter

Sign up for our email newsletter for the latest science news

Because there's no point in building a nanoscopic car that couldn't crush other nanoscopic cars in a race, Rice University scientists have rolled out their best and baddest "nanodragster" ever. The car, 1/25,000th the size of a human hair, not only has a freely moving chassis but also can turn when one of its wheels is up in the air. James Tour and his team previously made tiny cars that used carbon-60 molecules called "buckyballs" as wheels, but those wheels could turn on only hot surfaces, about 200 degrees Celsius. No longer. From Futurity.org:

The key to making nanodragsters, Tour says, was putting p-carborane wheels in the front and buckyballs in the back, getting the advantages of both. The front wheels roll easier, while the buckyballs grip the gold roadway well enough to be imaged by Kevin Kelly, an associate professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering. And the vehicle operates at a much lower temperature than previous nanovehicles.

“The trick to making these nanocars was to attach the smaller wheels first, then deactivate their reactive ends through carbon group attachments that we called ’scythes,’ much like blades on the centers of classical chariot wheels,” Tour says. “Then we could affix the larger C60 wheels to the rear axle.”

No word yet whether any potential nano-races will allow dragsters to gouge each other with those scythes, a la Ben-Hur

. Related Content: Discoblog: Got Too Many Plastic Bags? Recycle Them Into Carbon Nanotubes

Discoblog: Protect Your Phone with Shock-Absorbing Nanotubes

80beats: Nanoscale Origami: A Box—with Lock & Key—Made Entirely of DNA

Image: Rice University

3 Free Articles Left

Want it all? Get unlimited access when you subscribe.

Subscribe

Already a subscriber? Register or Log In

Want unlimited access?

Subscribe today and save 70%

Subscribe

Already a subscriber? Register or Log In