Washington: Chemists have created the world's tiniest electric motor, which is no bigger than a molecule.
The development may potentially pave the way for a new class of devices that could be used in applications ranging from medicine to engineering.
The electric motor, fabricated by a team from Tufts University, measures a mere one nanometre (nm) across, when the current world record is held by a 200 nm motor, the journal Nature Nanotechnology reports.
A single strand of human hair is about 60,000 nms wide, according to a Tufts University statement.
E. Charles H. Sykes, associate professor of chemistry at Tufts and senior study author, said: "There has been significant progress in the construction of molecular motors powered by light and by chemical reactions."
"But this is the first time that electrically-driven molecular motors have been demonstrated, despite a few theoretical proposals.
"We have been able to show that you can provide electricity to a single molecule and get it to do something that is not just random," added Sykes.
Sykes and his colleagues were able to control a molecular motor with electricity by using a state of the art, low-temperature scanning tunnelling microscope (LT-STM), one of about only 100 in the US.