A car race can be a pure adrenaline rush for many. A car race on a track made of gold and viewed under a tiny microscope may not get your adrenal glands pumping but it certainly marks the progress of nanotechnology.
In the first of its kind, the nanocar race will be organised by the National Centre for Scientific Research in France on the 28th of April. Of course, the burning question is, what exactly is a nanocar? More importantly, how will the race be watched?
The nanocars are tiny molecular machines made up of a few hundred atoms and if you’re wondering if there is such a thing as nano gas, there isn’t. These tiny cars will be powered by minute electrical pulses for 36 hours (that’s the duration of the race) as they navigate a race course made of gold atoms measuring a distance of 100 nanometers. The entire race will be broadcast live on YouTube Nanocar Race Channel.
The 36- hour long race will take place beneath the four tips of a microscope at CNRS‘s CEMES research centre, located in Toulouse. This microscope is the only one of its kind in the world in that it can allow four different experimenters to work on the same surface at the same time.
The teams participating in this race have their work cut out for them. One of those is the deposition of the molecules under the microscope and visualising their structure and composition to meet the criteria for the race. The challenges that they face signify the giant leap we have taken in the world of physics and molecular chemistry. The main object of this race is to observe and control molecular machines, measure their performance and observe the instruments used to control them. The creators of the challenge had a fair number of challenges some of which include organising the race, choosing the right race course, and adapting the microscope.
Molecular machines are something that we might have seen in sci-fi movies (think tiny machines cleaning up oil spills from the ocean) but the purpose of this race is to prove how much more molecular machines can contribute to our world. Nano machines will be able to construct regular machines, by capturing energy, atom-by-atom construction of circuits and yes, even deconstruction of industrial waste.