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Introducing the "Blue Buggy", our last generation nanocar ready for the next nano Grand Prix

by Guy Molénat - published on , updated on

According to the British Royal Automobile and the French Automobile clubs, the first car has been created in 1770 by the Frenchman Joseph Cugnot. The "fardier" (French name for a trolley used to transport heavy loads) is a car propelled by a steam engine powered by a boiler. This 7 m long self-propelled machine reaches a speed of 4 km / h, for an average autonomy of 15 min. 250 years later, researchers at CEMES-CNRS and University Paul Sabatier in partnership with the Nara Institute of Science and Technology (NAIST), Japan, report in Chemistry, a European Journal a new family of nanocars integrating a dipole to speed up in the nanoworld. The article has been selected for the Front Cover and highlighted in a Cover Profile.


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Chemical structure of the Nanocar qualified. (Copyright, G. Rapenne, NAIST and UPS)

After the first Nanocar Race organized in spring 2017, we designed in Toulouse (France) a new family of molecules to behave as cars in the nanoworld. Two years later, we are reporting the result in a publication presenting the synthesis of 9 dipolar nanocars achieved in Japan. The result is amazing. In every flask, about 100 mg of a blue powder stick to the walls. These are the Franco-Japanese racing cars that sleep wisely in the garage waiting for the next Grand Prix in 2021. The design of the molecules has been long thought. To hope to win the race, you have to be fast but you need also to keep the control. The design is then a compromise between opposite requirements. The nanocar is made up of 150 atoms (chemical formula C85H59N5Zn) andconsists of three components. A planar chassis made from porphyrin, a fragment already used in nature for many processes like oxygen transportation (hemoglobin) or photosynthesis (chlorophyl). Long of 2 nm and surrounded by two wheels to minimize contact with the ground and two legs which are able to donate or accept electron making the nanocar dipolar. Ultimately, the presence of a zinc atom could allow transportation of small molecules on the car body. A perspective of this research will be to transport reactants or drugs from one place to another place.

Reference : 

A dipolar nanocar based on a porphyrin backbone

T. Nishino, C. Martin, H. Takeuchi, F. Lim, K. Yasuhara, Y. Gisbert, S. Abid, N. Saffon-Merceron, C. Kammerer, G. Rapenne, ChemEur. J. 202026, 12010-12018. Hot paper - with Cover Profile and Front Cover



Contacts : kammerer at cemes.fr, rapenne at cemes.fr

Claire Kammerer, Assistant Professor l’Université Paul Sabatier (Toulouse) et Gwénaël Rapenne, Professor, Université Paul Sabatier (Toulouse) and at NAIST (Japon)