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NIST shows ultrasonically propelled nanorods spin dizzyingly fast

shaker beneath. They then vibrated the shaker at an ultrasonic tone of 3 megahertzmuch too high for you or your dog to hearand watched the motors and beads move.

As the motors rotate in water, they create a vortex around them. Beads that get close get swept up by the vortex and swirl around the rods. By measuring how far the beads are from the rods and how fast they move, the group was able to work out how quickly the motors were spinningwith an important caveat.

"The size of the nanorods is important in our measurements" says NIST physicist Andrew Balk. "We found that even small variations in the rod's dimensions cause large measurement uncertainties, so they need to be fabricated as uniformly as possible for future studies and applications."

According to the researchers, the speed of the nanomotors' rotation seems to be independent of their forward motion. Being able to control the "speed and feed" of the nanomotors independently would open up the possibility that they could be used as rotary tools for machining and mixing.

Future avenues of research include trying to discover exactly why the motors rotate and how the vortex around the rods affects their interactions with each other.


Contact: Mark Esser
National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)

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