One of the most intriguing possibilities of nanotechnology is in its ability to create molecular constructs that can work autonomously to perform specific tasks or functions. An artificial flagellum, powered by a nanomotor, attached to a vesicle loaded with drugs, delivering medications to a distant target, is our golden dream of the nanofuture. It is fair to say that scientists Anirban Bandyopadhyay and Somobrata Acharya from the International Center for Young Scientists, National Institute for Materials Science in Japan, are making our dreams more realistic. In the latest issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences they are reporting a self organizing 16-bit parallel processing molecular assembly. In essence, the processor is composed of 17 molecules of duroquinone on the surface of gold, in which the central molecule controls the other 16 through hydrogen-bond channels. As a result, the system can assume a huge (416) number of positions.
From the abstract:
A machine assembly consisting of 17 identical molecules of 2,3,5,6-tetramethyl-1–4-benzoquinone (DRQ) executes 16 instructions at a time. A single DRQ is positioned at the center of a circular ring formed by 16 other DRQs, controlling their operation in parallel through hydrogen-bond channels. Each molecule is a logic machine and generates four instructions by rotating its alkyl groups. A single instruction executed by a scanning tunneling microscope tip on the central molecule can change decisions of 16 machines simultaneously, in four billion (416) ways. This parallel communication represents a significant conceptual advance relative to today’s fastest processors, which execute only one instruction at a time.
Imagine a future where such a processor is a part of an in vivo nanopacemaker, siting right inside the AV node. Wow!
Abstract: A 16-bit parallel processing in a molecular assembly
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