Motor Proteins in Synthetic Materials and Devices


Viola Vogel Institute for Biologically Oriented Materials Department of Materials, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology

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After billions of years of evolution, biological nanomotors and, in particular, motor proteins have achieved a level of performance unmatched by current synthetic nanomotors. Motor proteins in hundreds of specific designs perform a wide range of functions in biology, while achieving more than 50% efficiency in the conversion of chemical energy to mechanical work.

The research discussed in this entry aims at utilizing motor proteins in hybrid “bio/nano” devices to explore the potential of nanomotors in technological applications. Challenges for this approach include the design of suitable synthetic environments, the interfacing of biological components with synthetic structures, the controlled modification of biological motors using recombinant techniques, and in general, the difficulty of engineering at a size scale where random fluctuations due to Brownian motion are an integral part of the system.

At this point, an international group of research teams has utilized a variety of rotational and linear motor proteins to demonstrate the first devices integrating motor proteins. These devices illustrate the important role that motor proteins can play in nanotechnology.