HUNTINGTON, W.Va. A group of Marshall University researchers and their colleagues in Japan are conducting research that may lead to new ways to move or position single moleculesa necessary step if man someday hopes to build molecular machines or other devices capable of working at very small scales.
Dr. Eric Blough, a member of the research team and an associate professor in Marshall University's Department of Biological Sciences, said his group has shown how bionanomotors can be used some day to move and manipulate molecules at the nanoscale.
Their research will be published in the Feb. 5 issue of the research journal Small.
"Being able to manipulate a single molecule under controlled conditions is actually a pretty big challenge," said Blough. "It's not quite the same, but imagine trying to pick up a single sewing needle off the ground with a huge steam shovel, and doing it so that you pick up the needle and nothing else. Or, to put it another wayhow do you manipulate something that is very tiny with something that is very big? We decided to try and get around this problem by seeing if it was possible to use single molecules to move other single molecules."
"What we are trying to replicate in the lab is something that nature has been doing for millions of yearscells use bionanomotors all the time to move things around," he said.
Blough describes bionanomotors as naturally occurring tiny "machines" that convert chemical energy directly into mechanical work. A nanometer is about 1/100,000 the width of a human hair. A nanomotor is similarly sized and operates at the smallest of small scales.
"Our muscles are living proof of how bionanomotors can be harnessed to do useful work," he added.
In the lab, Blough and his colleagues used myosina protein found in muscle that is responsible for generating the force of muscle contractionas the motor, and actinanother protein isolated from musc
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