Each of the single-molecule, 244-atom submersibles built in the Rice lab of chemist James Tour has a motor powered by ultraviolet light. With each full revolution, the motor's tail-like propeller moves the sub forward 18 nanometers.Next: nanoscale ballistic missiles
And with the motors running at more than a million RPM, that translates into speed. Though the sub's top speed amounts to less than 1 inch per second, Tour said that's a breakneck pace on the molecular scale.
"These are the fastest-moving molecules ever seen in solution," he said.
[...]Tour's group has extensive experience with molecular machines. A decade ago, his lab introduced the world to nanocars, single-molecule cars with four wheels, axles and independent suspensions that could be "driven" across a surface.