World's smallest motor: 1 nanometer in diameter

Chemists at Tufts University have invented the world's smallest electric motor, measuring a mere 1 nanometer across. The researchers have detailed their work online in Nature Nanotechnology and plan to submit the Tufts-built electric motor to Guinness World Records.

The motor, comprised of nothing more than a single molecule, was put to the test in a proof of concept demonstration. The team provided a charge using a special low-temperature scanning tunneling microscope.

Electricity was sent from the metal tip on the microscope to a butyl methyl sulfide molecule that had been placed on a conductive copper surface. This sulfur-containing molecule had carbon and hydrogen atoms radiating off to form what looked like two arms, with four carbons on one side and one on the other. These carbon chains were free to rotate around the sulfur-copper bond.

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