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Logo TU Braunschweig our group Logo Nanoscooter

Team Nanoscooter Braunschweig

Project idea


The steering of the Nanoscooter

In the future, the Nanoscooter could be improved by the introduction of a steering mechanism.

Our idea for such a steering is to introduce gold nanoparticles tethered to one side of the DNA origami. Like the platinum nanoparticles for the engine, the gold nanoparticles can be functionalized with single stranded DNA to attach them to the Nanoscooter (Figure 1).[1]

Figure 1: Schematic illustration of the Nanoscooter modified with an Au-nanoparticle.

The gold nanoparticles can then be heated by using a laser beam which leads to a very localized density change in the surrounding medium. Therefore, the Nanoscooter will have lower resistance at the heated side making it stick to the cool side and turn that way.

Another possibility is the attachment of nickel nanoparticles, which can also be tethered to the Nanoscooter via DNA hybridization. An externally controlled magnetic field enables directed movement of the Nanoscooter.

Figure 2: Schematic illustration of the Nanoscooter modified with a nickel nanoparticle.

Furthermore, approaches without nanoparticles are thinkable: By generating areas with different roughness on mica plates, ultraflat “roads” could be created on the surface, which also support a directed movement of the Nanoscooter. Also, the steering with help of an electric field could be enabled easily if the Nanoscooter is placed in a suitable capacitor.

Finally, any combination of the suggestions could be used for steering the Nanoscooter.


As a controllable vehicle the Nanoscooter is able to transport raw materials and semi-finished components on well-defined routes to their destination inside the mentioned factories for conversion and further processing. The exact movement of the Nanoscooter on these routes can be realized for example with different ionic concentrations inside the factories, different roughness of the surface or by using of other nanoparticles which could interact with external features of the nanoscale factory.

"Nanotechnology has given us the tools to play with the ultimate toy box of nature—atoms and molecules. Everything is made from these, and the possibilities to create new things appear limitless."[2]

Horst Ludwig Störmer

The big advantage of nanobots like our Nanoscooter is the opportunity to build different structures in a bottom-up process promulgated by Feynman.[3] This allows the application in different areas of nanosciences.

The most interesting application of the Nanoscooter could be the usage as a transporter in nanofactories. Eric Drexler described such a nanoscale factory similar to a normal sized factory with engines, conveyor belts and grapplers, but small enough to be placed on a microchip.[4] These factories will be able to build nanoobjects very precisely and in short time by assembling structures atom by atom or molecule by molecule. Every type of raw material could be used in such nanoscale factory what makes them very cheap and ecologically sustainable.

Figure 3: Futuristic picture of a nanofactory.[5]

"The principles of physics, as far as I can see, do not speak against the possibility of maneuvering things atom by atom."[2]

Richard Feynman

Figure 4: Computer chip.[7]

Especially the construction of computer chips by nanofactories in a bottom-up process without using lithography seems to have a bright future since Moore's law[a] might begin to falter in the year 2020 or soon afterwards.[6] The enormous costs of building new computer chip factories could be reduced drastically by using nanotechnology. The Nanoscooter may be used in such factories as a transporter of different computer chip ingredients and as a device which is responsible for the electronic connection between different computer chip parts.

Furthermore, the Nanoscooter could support the development of an autonomic laboratory because of the potential ability to facilitate self healing of different construction materials, self replication and self-assembly.

"The role of the infinitely small is infinitely large."[2]

Louis Pasteur

Of course further applications of the Nanoscooter are possible. Since the success of lithographic methods is limited by accuracy, the self-assembly properties of nanorobotics and hence of the Nanoscooter could be used as a complementary technique to extend the lithographic approach.

For example, the constructing of a nanoscale Yagi-Uda antenna with high precision and yield could be realized by a bottom-up process with the help of our Nanoscooter. These optical antennas are used for converting optical radiation into localized energy and the other way around with high performance and efficiency.[8-10] Typically, they are used in the growing research field "plasmonics" which treats light-metal interactions. It finds applications in miniaturized optical devices, sensors, medical diagnostics and therapeutics.[11]

Figure 5: Simple scheme of a Yagi-Uda antenna.[9]

Another application for the Nanoscooter could be as a piston in a nanopump which can be used on the area of nanofluidics. This scientific niche could be the next generation of micro fluidics which is routinely applied in combinatorial chemistry. Through this approach the synthesis of a large number of components in a single process is possible. Especially the application in medicine and pharmacology is very promising.[13]

Eventually, a lot of other scientific approaches with the Nanoscooter are possible. This nanobot can be visioned as a very important step towards nanorobotics which will enhance the global prosperity and lead to a second industrial revolution.[2]

Figure 6: Pump which is used in the field of micro fluidic.[12]

Moore's law is the observation that the density of the computer chips and hence the power of the average computer doubles every 18 months.


A. K. R. Hurst, S. J. Lytton-Jean, C. A. Mirkin: Maximizing DNA Loading on a Range of Gold Nanoparticle Sizes, Nature, 2006, 78, 8318-8318.


M. Kaku: Physics of the Future, 2011, Doubleday.


R. P. Feynman: The Pleasure of Finding Things Out, 1999, Perserus Books, Cambridge.


K. E. Drexler: Engines of Creation, 1986, Anchor Books, New York.


deviantart,, final request: 23.10.14.


extremetech,, final request: 23.10.14.


The Trading Report,, final request: 23.10.14.


J. A. Schuller, T. Taubner , M. L. Brongersma: Optical antenna thermal emitters, Nature Photonics, 2009, 3, 658-661.


T. Kosako, Y. Kadoya, H. F. Hofmann: Directional control of light by a nano-optical Yagi–Uda antenna, Nature Photonics, 2010, 4, 312-315.


L. Novotny, N. van Hulst: Antennas for light, Nature Photonics, 2011, 5, 83-90.


M. E. Stewart, C. R. Anderton, L. B. Thompson, J. Maria, S. K. Gray, J. A. Rogers, R. G. Nuzzo: Nanostructured plasmonic sensors, Chem. Rev., 2008, 108, 494-521.


GIT-Laborportal,, final request: 23.10.14.


E. V. Gordeeva, D. E. Lushniknov, N. S. Zefirov: COMPASS Program - An Original Semi-Emperical Approach To Computer-Assisted Synthesis, Tetrahedron, 1992, 48, 3789–3804.

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