Friday, March 8, 2013

World’s most advance molecule maker

A molecule is the smallest and most basic part of matter that can exist independently. For instance, a molecule of sugar will exhibit all the properties of sugar such as taste, colour, etc.

The development of a machine which uses molecules to make molecules in a synthetic process is similar to the robotic assembly line in car plants. The machine is just a few nanometres long (few millionths of a millimetre) and can only be seen using special instruments. Its creation was inspired by natural complex molecular factories where information from DNA is used to programme the linking of molecular building blocks in the correct order. 

David Leigh, Professor at the University of Manchester School of Chemistry, led the team that developed this unique machine.

The most extraordinary of these factories is the ribosome, a massive molecular machine found in all living cells, which has inspired Leigh’s machine.

It features a functionalised nanometre-sized ring that moves along a molecular track, picking up building blocks located on the path and connecting them together in a specific order to synthesise the desired new molecule.

Leigh says the current prototype is still far from being as efficient as the ribosome. “The ribosome can put together 20 building blocks a second until up to 150 are linked. So far we have only used our machine to link together four blocks and it takes 12 hours to connect each block.”