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Track-walking molecular motors: a new generation beyond bridge-burning designs


Track-walking molecular motors are the core bottom-up mechanism for nanometres-resolved translational movements – a fundamental technological capability at the root of numerous applications ranging from nanoscale assembly lines, chemical synthesis to molecular robots and shape-changing materials. Over the last 10 years, artificial molecular walkers (or nanowalkers) have evolved from the 1st generation of bridge-burning designs to the 2nd generation capable of truly sustainable movements. Inventing non-burning-bridge nanowalkers was slow first, then picked up speed since 2012, and is now near breaking major barriers for wide-spread development. Here we review the 2nd generation of artificial nanowalkers, which are mostly made of DNA molecules and draw energy from light illuminations or from chemical fuels for entirely autonomous operation. They are typically symmetric dimeric motors walking on entirely periodic tracks, and yet possess an inherent direction necessary for large-scale amplification of many motors’ action. These translational motors encompass the function of rotational molecular motors on circular or linear tracks, and may involve molecular shuttles as ‘engine’ motifs. Some rules of thumb are provided to help readers to design similar motors from DNA or other molecular building blocks. Opportunities and challenges for future development are discussed, especially in the areas of molecular robotics and active materials based on the advanced motors.

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Publication details

The article was received on 02 Jan 2019, accepted on 06 Apr 2019 and first published on 09 Apr 2019

Article type: Review Article
DOI: 10.1039/C9NR00033J
Citation: Nanoscale, 2019, Accepted Manuscript

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    Track-walking molecular motors: a new generation beyond bridge-burning designs

    Z. Wang, R. Hou and I. Y. Loh, Nanoscale, 2019, Accepted Manuscript , DOI: 10.1039/C9NR00033J

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