- The new machine mimics the pumping mechanism of life-sustaining proteins that move small molecules around living cells to metabolize and store energy from food. For its food, the artificial pump draws power from chemical reactions, driving molecules step-by-step from a low-energy state to a high-energy state—far away from equilibrium.
- The tiny molecular machine threads the rings around a nanoscopic chain—a sort of axle—and squeezes the rings together, with only a few nanometers separating them. At present, the artificial molecular pump is able to force only two rings together, but the researchers believe it won't be long before they can extend its operation to tens of rings and store more energy.
- Ultimately, they intend to use the energy stored in their pump to power artificial muscles and other molecular machines. The researchers also hope their design will inspire other chemists working in non-equilibrium chemistry.
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