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From molecular motors to stimuli-responsive materials

Nature often makes use of modular building blocks to design biological structures. So that organisms can respond to their environments, these building blocks often incorporate stimuli-responsive properties, which are inspiring the next generation of smart materials.

In Advanced Materials, Professor Nicolas Giuseppone of the University of Strasbourg and co-workers discuss recent advancements in using molecular machines as building blocks to create new types of stimuli-responsive materials.

In nature, the collective response of such building blocks leads to a macroscale function, such as the contraction of muscles.

To mimic this behavior, artificial molecular machines must display controlled motion on the nanoscale in response to external chemical or physical triggers. 

The next step is using the intrinsic properties of these building blocks to create responsive systems and new 2D and 3D functional materials.

“Hierarchical mechanics represents an innovative approach to stimuli-responsive materials. Through the integration, orientation, and interfacing of large assemblies of molecular machines, we can harness their collective actuations on a larger scale, up to the generation of macroscopic motion, with potential applications in sensing, drug delivery, electronics, optics, plasmonics, and mechanics.”

To learn more about the functioning principles and applications of molecular machines and their hierarchical assembly please visit the Advanced Materials homepage.

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