At Tufts University there now exists the worlds smallest electric motor. The “molecular motor” is made from a butyl methyl sulphide molecule and a substrate of copper. It is approximately one nanometer across, and can be powered by the tip of a scanning electron microscope. The “blades” of the motor are made up of carbon and hydrogen atoms that stick out of either end of the sulphur molecule attached to the copper. The application of a charge causes the "blades" to rotate at incredible speeds, which must be slowed by extremely cold temperatures. Although the rotation can go in both directions, it is more likely to go in one direction, and therefore be somewhat predictable for mechanical operations.
It is a very exciting advancement in nanotechnology to have a working electric motor this small. The prospect of working nanomachines has been predicted since the 1980’s. One day, such motors may be used to power complex nano-devices for use in construction, medicine, or electronics. Tiny motors could power devices to perform surgery on single cells, or to power electronic sensors. Although such devises remain futuristic, the creation of this motor demonstrates further progress toward making past predictions a reality.