Gearing up molecular rotary motors

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Science  02 Jun 2017:
Vol. 356, Issue 6341, pp. 906-907
DOI: 10.1126/science.aan4353

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Machines and motors based on synthetic small molecules are realized by a “bottom-up” approach to nanotechnology (13) and could exploit molecular motion in one of two ways. The first generates macroscopic work by collecting the actions of many nanodevices organized in an array that provides spatial and temporal control of the motion activated by an energy supply. This approach mimics myosin motor proteins in skeletal muscles. The second route uses the energy-consuming directed movement of individual molecular machines to perform a task at the nanoscale, mimicking kinesin-based transport. Both cases mechanically couple an active component (the molecular machine) with nearby passive components and, ultimately, with the surrounding environment (4). On page 964 of this issue, Štacko et al. (5) report the synchronous transmission of a photoactivated directional motion from a synthetic molecular motor to a coupled rotor. This demonstration takes an important step forward toward more complex mechanical functions with artificial nanoscale devices.