Sophisticated nanomotors have evolved in nature, where motor proteins actively control the delivery and assembly of materials within cells, and generate large forces by acting in arrays, for example in muscles. In contrast, the development of synthetic nanomotors is in its infancy.
We have successfully utilized motor proteins in synthetic environments for the controlled transport of nanoscale cargo, and continue to advance the design of such hybrid bionanodevices and –materials.
The hybrid approach has the advantage that techniques, materials and devices unique to either biology or technology can be merged into a revolutionary combination. Applications particularly suited to hybrid systems are found in medicine and biotechnology, where biocompatibility is critical and the environmental conditions are favorable for biological nanomachines.
Many technological applications however require temperature stability and durability beyond the limitations of biological components. Here hybrid devices can provide a proof-of-concept, but the challenge is to assemble synthetic nanomotors based on the biological design concepts which operate over a wide range of conditions.
Ultimately, working with individual or arrays of nanoscale motors requires a complete rethinking of engineering approaches to force generation and mass transport, including problems of control, efficiency, and scaling. Our goal is to realize the nanorevolution in this particular technology arena.