Abstract

Natural nanomechanisms such as capillaries, neurotransmitters, and ion channels play a vital role in the living systems. But the design principles developed by nature through evolution are not well understood and, hence, not applicable to engineered nanomachines. Thus, the design of nanoscale mechanisms with prescribed functions remains a challenge. Here, we present a systematic approach based on established kinematics techniques to designing, analyzing, and controlling manufacturable nanomachines with prescribed mobility and function built from a finite but extendable number of available “molecular primitives.” Our framework allows the systematic exploration of the design space of irreducibly simple nanomachines, built with prescribed motion specification by combining available nanocomponents into systems having constrained, and consequently controllable motions. We show that the proposed framework has allowed us to discover and verify a molecule in the form of a seven link, seven revolute (7R) close loop spatial linkage with mobility (degree of freedom) of one. Furthermore, our experiments exhibit the type and range of motion predicted by our simulations. Enhancing such a structure into functional nanomechanisms by exploiting and controlling their motions individually or as part of an ensemble could galvanize development of the multitude of engineering, scientific, medical, and consumer applications that can benefit from engineered nanomachines.

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