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Driving and Controlling Molecular Surface Rotors with a Terahertz Electric Field

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journal contribution
posted on 26.06.2012, 00:00 by Jan Neumann, Kay E. Gottschalk, R. Dean Astumian
Great progress has been made in the design and synthesis of molecular motors and rotors. Loosely inspired by biomolecular machines such as kinesin and the FoF1 ATPsynthase, these molecules are hoped to provide elements for construction of more elaborate structures that can carry out tasks at the nanoscale corresponding to the tasks accomplished by elementary machines in the macroscopic world. Most of the molecular motors synthesized to date suffer from the drawback that they operate relatively slowly (less than kHz). Here we show by molecular dynamics studies of a diethyl sulfide rotor on a gold(111) surface that a high-frequency oscillating electric field normal to the surface can drive directed rotation at GHz frequencies. The maximum directed rotation rate is 1010 rotations per second, significantly faster than the rotation of previously reported directional molecular rotors. Understanding the fundamental basis of directed motion of surface rotors is essential for the further development of efficient externally driven artificial rotors. Our results represent a step toward the design of a surface-bound molecular rotary motor with a tunable rotation frequency and direction.

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