Research News

Nano walker follows a path of light

Research into synthetic locomoting systems on a nanometer scale is currently of great interest. In particular, scientists are developing tiny transport systems, which might be utilized to transport drugs and active substances inside cells or as part of artificial nanofactories. Currently, researchers evaluate a variety of systems to better understand which locomotive processes, methods of control and energy supply systems could be used.

Now, scientists Prof. Michael Famulok (Max Planck Fellow at research center caesar) and Julián Valero, in a joint cooperation with the Japanese research group of Prof. Hiroyuki Asanuma, have developed a new type of molecular walker. The walker can be controlled by light at different wavelengths. It is made of DNA and moves by utilizing the chemical interactions of molecules. It is called a “walker” since it ambulates on two legs, step by step on a defined path, through the nano world. What makes the walker special is inside its legs: they contain azobenzene derivatives, which can be manipulated by light pulses at different wavelengths. By irradiating the walker with a particular sequence of different wavelengths, its movements can be controlled.

This new design of a nanowalker that is exclusively controlled by light will now be presented in the journal “Angewandte Chemie”.