Just how small is small, especially when you take into consideration the size of the average motor out there? Well, bigger is not necessarily better, especially in the world of nanotechnology – where scientists from Tufts University in Massachusetts might have stumbled upon a new discovery which could change the way we do things. In essence, they managed to develop an electric motor that comprises of a single molecule (that’s around a billionth of a metre), which is the equivalent of one nanometer across – when compared to a human hair which is 60,000 nanometers in diameter, this is extremely small.

What you see above shows the rotated molecule in yellow, where the tip of the microscope is represented by the grey molecules. Having said that, it is a recognized achievement by the Guinness World Records, making it the smallest electrical motor stands at 200 nanometers.

The team with associate professor of chemistry Charles Sykes at the helm managed to rotate a single butyl methyl sulfide molecule back and forth, relying on some kind of exotic technology to get the job done. Of course, it is only made possible at a mind-boggingly low temperature of 5 Kelvin – which translates to minus 450F.

I wonder what kind of other applications the molecule motor is capable of – how about you?

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