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A four-wheeled molecule moving on a metal surface

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Uploaded on Nov 9, 2011

Supplementary information from the paper "Electrically driven directional motion of a four-wheeled molecule on a metal surface," authored by Tibor Kudernac, Nopporn Ruangsupapichat, Manfred Parschau, Beatriz Maciá, Nathalie Katsonis, Syuzanna R. Harutyunyan, Karl-Heinz Ernst & Ben L. Feringa, published in Nature 479: 208--211, 10 November 2011.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/nature10587

Abstract = "Propelling single molecules in a controlled manner along an unmodified surface remains extremely challenging because it requires molecules that can use light, chemical or electrical energy to modulate their interaction with the surface in a way that generates motion. Nature's motor proteins have mastered the art of converting conformational changes into directed motion, and have inspired the design of artificial systems such as DNA walkers and light- and redox-driven molecular motors. But although controlled movement of single molecules along a surface has been reported, the molecules in these examples act as passive elements that either diffuse along a preferential direction with equal probability for forward and backward movement or are dragged by an STM tip. Here we present a molecule with four functional units—our previously reported rotary motors—that undergo continuous and defined conformational changes upon sequential electronic and vibrational excitation. Scanning tunnelling microscopy confirms that activation of the conformational changes of the rotors through inelastic electron tunnelling propels the molecule unidirectionally across a Cu(111) surface. The system can be adapted to follow either linear or random surface trajectories or to remain stationary, by tuning the chirality of the individual motor units. Our design provides a starting point for the exploration of more sophisticated molecular mechanical systems with directionally controlled motion."

Anticipated linear propelled movement of a molecular model of the meso-form. The movie shows propelled movement of the meso-isomer of the four-wheeled molecule on a surface via consecutive double bond isomerisation and helix inversion processes of the motor units in concerted unidirectional fashion. For clarity, the hexyl groups are substituted by methyl groups.

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