molecular machine


  • [53] Molecular motor   A molecule that is capable of directional rotary motion around a single or double bond and produce useful work as a result (as depicted in the image).

  • [citation needed] Terminology Several definitions describe a “molecular machine” as a class of molecules typically described as an assembly of a discrete number of molecular
    components intended to produce mechanical movements in response to specific stimuli.

  • This design realized the well-defined motion of a molecular unit across the length of the molecule for the first time.

  • Biological machines are considered to be nanoscale devices (such as molecular proteins) in a living system that convert various forms of energy to mechanical work in order
    to drive crucial biological processes such as intracellular transport, muscle contractions, ATP generation and cell division.

  • If these two sites are different from each other in terms of features like electron density, this can give rise to weak or strong recognition sites as in biological systems
    — such AMMs have found applications in catalysis and drug delivery.

  • For instance, AMM-immobilized surfaces (AMMISs) are a novel class of functional materials consisting of AMMs attached to inorganic surfaces forming features like self-assembled
    monolayers; this gives rise to tunable properties such as fluorescence, aggregation and drug-release activity.

  • [4][5] The advent of conformational analysis, or the study of conformers to analyze complex chemical structures, in the 1950s gave rise to the idea of understanding and controlling
    relative motion within molecular components for further applications.

  • [23] Bending or V-like shapes can be achieved by incorporating double bonds, that can undergo cis-trans isomerization in response to certain stimuli (typically irradiation
    with a suitable wavelength), as seen in numerous designs consisting of stilbene and azobenzene units.

  • Molecular machines are a class of molecules typically described as an assembly of a discrete number of molecular components intended to produce mechanical movements in response
    to specific stimuli, mimicking macromolecular devices such as switches and motors.

  • This led to the addition of stimuli-responsive moieties in AMM design, so that externally applied non-thermal sources of energy could drive molecular motion and hence allow
    control over the properties.

  • Unlike a molecular motor, any mechanical work done due to the motion in a switch is generally undone once the molecule returns to its original state unless it is part of a
    larger motor-like system.

  • [27][28] Some common types of motion seen in some simple components of artificial molecular machines.

  • [26] Another line of AMMs consists of biomolecules such as DNA and proteins as part of their design, making use of phenomena like protein folding and unfolding.

  • Inspired by the use of kinetic control to produce work in natural processes, molecular motors are designed to have a continuous energy influx to keep them away from equilibrium
    to deliver work.

  • [7] In 1994, an improved design allowed control over the motion of the ring by pH variation or electrochemical methods, making it the first example of an AMM.

  • The first example of an artificial molecular machine (AMM) was reported in 1994, featuring a rotaxane with a ring and two different possible binding sites.

  • [68] A common molecular shuttle consists of a rotaxane where the macrocycle can move between two sites or stations along the dumbbell backbone; controlling the properties
    of either site and by regulating conditions like pH can enable control over which site is selected for binding.

  • Chemical energy (or “chemical fuels”) was an attractive option at the beginning, given the broad array of reversible chemical reactions (heavily based on acid-base chemistry)
    to switch molecules between different states.

  • A major starting point for the design of AMMs is to exploit the existing modes of motion in molecules.

  • [3] Molecular machines differ from other stimuli-responsive compounds that can produce motion (such as cis-trans isomers) in their relatively larger amplitude of movement
    (potentially due to chemical reactions) and the presence of a clear external stimulus to regulate the movements (as compared to random thermal motion).

  • Though a diverse variety of AMMs are known today, experimental studies of these molecules are inhibited by the lack of methods to construct these molecules.

  • [2] A few prime requirements for a molecule to be considered a “molecular machine” are: the presence of moving parts, the ability to consume energy, and the ability to perform
    a task.

  • A major route is the introduction of bistability to produce molecular switches, featuring two distinct configurations for the molecule to convert between.

  • [68][69] Molecular switch A molecule that can be reversibly shifted between two or more stable states in response to certain stimuli.

  • [25] Another common mode of movement is the circumrotation of rings relative to one another as observed in mechanically interlocked molecules (primarily catenanes).

  • Kinesins and ribosomes are examples of molecular machines, and they often take the form of multi-protein complexes.

  • Eventually, several different forms of energy (electric,[31] magnetic,[32] optical[33] and so on) have become the primary energy sources used to power AMMs, even producing
    autonomous systems such as light-driven motors.

  • This has been perceived as a step forward from the original molecular shuttle which consisted of two identical sites for the ring to move between without any preference, in
    a manner analogous to the ring flip in an unsubstituted cyclohexane.

  • “[79] Other biological machines are responsible for energy production, for example ATP synthase which harnesses energy from proton gradients across membranes to drive a turbine-like
    motion used to synthesise ATP, the energy currency of a cell.

  • [4][5] History Biological molecular machines have been known and studied for years given their vital role in sustaining life, and have served as inspiration for synthetically
    designed systems with similar useful functionality.

  • [2] Piezoelectric, magnetostrictive, and other materials that produce a movement due to external stimuli on a macro-scale are generally not included, since despite the molecular
    origin of the motion the effects are not useable on the molecular scale.

  • A broad range of AMMs has been designed, featuring different properties and applications; some of these include molecular motors,[1] switches, and logic gates.

  • [34] Types[edit] Various AMMs have been designed with a broad range of functions and applications, several of which have been tabulated below along with indicative images:[20]
    Molecular balance A molecule that can interconvert between two or more conformational or configurational states in response to the dynamic of multiple intra- and intermolecular driving forces,[35][36] such as hydrogen bonding, solvophobic
    or hydrophobic effects,[37] π interactions,[38] and steric and dispersion interactions.

  • This definition generally applies to synthetic molecular machines, which have historically gained inspiration from the naturally occurring biological molecular machines (also
    referred to as “nanomachines”).

  • [77] Biological molecular machines The most complex macromolecular machines are found within cells, often in the form of multi-protein complexes.

  • [11] Building upon the assembly of mechanically linked molecules such as catenanes and rotaxanes as developed by Jean-Pierre Sauvage in the early 1980s,[12][13] this shuttle
    features a rotaxane with a ring that can move across an “axle” between two ends or possible binding sites (hydroquinone units).

  • While this type of rotation can not be accessed beyond the molecule itself (because the rings are confined within one another), rotaxanes can overcome this as the rings can
    undergo translational movements along a dumbbell-like axis.

  • [51][52] The first example of a molecular logic gate was reported in 1993, featuring a receptor (see image) where the emission intensity could be treated as a tunable output
    if the concentrations of protons and sodium ions were to be considered as inputs.

  • Though the movements in AMMs were regulated relative to the random thermal motion generally seen in molecules, they could not be controlled or manipulated as desired.

  • [74] Nanocar Single-molecule vehicles that resemble macroscopic automobiles and are important for understanding how to control molecular diffusion on surfaces.

  • A major example is the design of a photoresponsive crown ether containing an azobenzene unit, which could switch between cis and trans isomers on exposure to light and hence
    tune the cation-binding properties of the ether.

  • The image on the right shows an example with wheels made of fullerene molecules.


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