Sunday, January 09, 2011

US Patent 7863798 - Nanocrystal powered nanomotor

Attempts to shrink micromechanical motors to the nanoscale are usually confronted with the problems of stiction and reliability. A few approaches have used biomaterials such as DNA and carbon nanotubes to construct actuators which avoid these problems. This patent from Berkeley Lab claims one variation using multiwall carbon nanotubes and a reservoir of indium atoms to construct a linear actuator. Claim 1 reads: 

1. A nanoscale motor, comprising:

an atom reservoir operable to provide atoms;

a nanoparticle ram coupled to the atom reservoir and operable to receive the atoms from the atom reservoir;

a substrate coupling the atom reservoir to the nanoparticle ram;

a nanolever coupled to the nanoparticle ram, the nanolever operable to move in response to the nanoparticle ram receiving the atoms from the atom reservoir; and

a voltage source electrically coupled to the substrate and operable to deliver reversible positive and negative voltages to electrical connections of the motor, the reversible positive and negative voltages operable to cause reciprocal movement of the nanolever.