The Italian Almanac

dna nanomotor

Italian Science - January 24

Italy has made the world's fastest nanomotor - a molecular engine designed to carry drugs into cells. The engine, called Sunny because it runs on solar power, is a million times faster than the only other eco-friendly nanomotor, recently built in the Netherlands.

Molecular engines represent one of the most exciting developments in nanotechnology, said the engine's designer, Vincenzo Balzani of Bologna University. Practical applications are believed to be some years off but researchers hope they can be used to transport pharmaceuticals to the sites inside cells where they will do the most good. Nanomotors may also be used to build projected 'chemical computers', scientists hope.

"These are new ideas, but it's highly likely that molecular engines will be used for things we haven't thought of yet," Balzani told the prestigious US science journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Science. The nanomotor was designed in Italy, put together at the University of California at Los Angeles, and put through its paces back in Bologna.

Nanotechnology describes technological developments at the smallest level possible to science. One nanometer is one millionth of a millimetre.