The Nanocar Race I and II
CEMES-CNRS, Université de Toulouse, 29 rue Jeanne Marvig,
31055 Toulouse, France
MANA-NIMS, 1-1 Namiki, Tsukuba, Ibaraki 3, Japan
In 2013, we proposed the organization of a molecule-car race with different molecule-vehicles driven one by one, at the same time, by pilots using different scanning tunneling microscopes (STM) and on the same surface . This was one consequence of a long period of research on single molecule mechanics started with the first observation of a single molecule in rotation  and followed by the construction of a few molecule(s) machinery like the single molecule-wheelbarrow , the molecular rack and pinion , a single molecule-rotor  and the first observation that a single molecule alone has enough power to rotate one way a few atoms  or another molecule .
With about 100 atoms, a molecule-vehicle has a molecular chassis equipped with spacer chemical groups to hold it a few angstrom away from the surface, paddles, switchable legs or wheels and a motorization embedded on board . For this first edition, pushing its molecule-vehicle using the known pushing, pulling or sliding STM manipulation modes was forbidden forcing each team to play with inelastic tunneling effects for a drive on the Au(111) surface . The 27th of April 2017 at 11:00 am, the departure flag was up in the Toulouse control room with the 6 selected teams from around the world on their starting atomic line, ready to nano-race. The anticipated run was 100 nm on a single Au(111) surface with 2 turns. After 2 days and one night of intense efforts, the 29th of April 2017 at 17:00 pm, the first ever international nano-car race was a success. We will describe the UHV technologies created on purpose for this race involving in particular a unique LT-UHV 4-STM i.e. a scanning tunneling microscope with 4 scanners able to scan on the same surface and a special UHV sublimation system with a dedicated masking set-up. We will present some of the nano-car race sequences recorded during those 36 hours.
In 2018, we have announced the nano-car race second edition for spring 2021 organized under the new MEMO (Mechanics with molecule(s)) European project. Ten teams from all over the world are already officially registered . The rules of this second edition will be given in a way to attract more teams to join the fun of designing, synthesizing and operating a single molecule machinery on a surface.
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About the speaker: Christian Joachim is Director of Research Fellow (CNRS) at the Nanoscience group CEMES/CNRS in Toulouse and since 2008 adjunct Professor of Quantum Physics and Quantum Engineering at ISAE-Sup'Aero. He was A*STAR VIP Atom Tech in Singapore (2005-2014) and is WPI MANA-NIMS in Tsukuba since 2008. He had coordinated the Integrated European projects "Bottom-up Nanomachines", "Pico-Inside" and "AtMol" with the objective to construct the first ever molecular chip. He has published more than 300 scientific publications (h-index = 59) accompanied with over 380 invited talks on electron transfer through a molecule, STM and Atomic Force Microscopy (AFM) image calculations, tunnel transport through a molecule, single molecule logic gate, atomic scale circuits, atomic scale electronics interconnects and single molecule-mechanical machines. With its 1991 IBM France Prize, 1997 Feynman Prize, 1999 French Nanotechnology prize, 2001 CNRS Silver Medal in Chemistry, 2005 Feynman Prize, he made its entry in the 2011 Guinness for the smallest functioning molecule-gear. He got a European star in 2015 for the coordination of the AtMol project. He is at the origin and the editor of the Springer Series "Advances in Atom and Single Molecule Machines" with 11 volumes published since 2012. His book: "Nanosciences, the invisible revolution" (Le Seuil (2008), World Scientific (2009)) is describing the history of nanosciences and its political drawbacks to a general public. He is also a permanent member of the Toulouse Academy of "Sciences & Belles Lettres".