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Nat Nanotechnol. 2015 Jan;10(1):70-5. doi: 10.1038/nnano.2014.260. Epub 2014 Nov 24.

Light-powered autonomous and directional molecular motion of a dissipative self-assembling system.

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Photochemical Nanosciences Laboratory, Dipartimento di Chimica "G. Ciamician", Università di Bologna, via Selmi 2, 40126 Bologna, Italy.


Biomolecular motors convert energy into directed motion and operate away from thermal equilibrium. The development of dynamic chemical systems that exploit dissipative (non-equilibrium) processes is a challenge in supramolecular chemistry and a premise for the realization of artificial nanoscale motors. Here, we report the relative unidirectional transit of a non-symmetric molecular axle through a macrocycle powered solely by light. The molecular machine rectifies Brownian fluctuations by energy and information ratchet mechanisms and can repeat its working cycle under photostationary conditions. The system epitomizes the conceptual and practical elements forming the basis of autonomous light-powered directed motion with a minimalist molecular design.

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