Electric fields drive the rotating nano-crane. (Enzo Kopperger/TUM)

Scientists have developed a novel electric propulsion technology for nanorobots. Traditional nanobots take minutes to carry out actions, sometimes even hours. Therefore, efficient molecular assembly lines cannot, for all practical purposes, be implemented using these methodologies.

To determine whether and how fast the robot arms would line up with an electric field, the researchers affixed several million nanobot arms to a glass substrate and placed it into a sample holder with electrical contacts designed specifically for the purpose. The experiment demonstrated that molecular machines can be moved, and thus also driven electrically.