Insights into Properties of Matter at the Nanoscale

UCLA nanoscience researchers have determined that a fluid that behaves similarly to water in our day-to-day lives becomes as heavy as honey when trapped in a nanocage of a porous solid, offering new insights into how matter behaves in the nanoscale world. “We are learning more and more about the properties of matter at the nanoscale so that we can design machines with specific functions,” said senior author Miguel García-Garibay, Ph.D., Dean of the UCLA Division of Physical Sciences and Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry. The research is published in the journal ACS Central Science. Just how small is the nanoscale? A nanometer is about 1/20,000 the diameter of a human hair. Despite years of research by scientists around the world, the extraordinarily small size of matter at the nanoscale has made it challenging to learn how motion works at this scale. “This exciting research, supported by the National Science Foundation, represents a seminal advance in the field of molecular machines,” said Eugene Zubarev, a program director at the NSF. “It will certainly stimulate further work, both in basic research and real-life applications of molecular electronics and miniaturized devices. Miguel Garcia-Garibay is among the pioneers of this field and has a very strong record of high-impact work and ground-breaking discoveries.” Possible uses for complex nanomachines that could be much smaller than a cell include placing a pharmaceutical in a nanocage and releasing the cargo inside a cell, to kill a cancer cell, for example; transporting molecules for medical reasons; designing molecular computers that potentially could be placed inside your body to detect disease before you are aware of any symptoms; or perhaps even to design new forms of matter.
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