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Molecules, like Tinkertoys, link up. (Chemistry).

By developing a novel way to make molecules assemble themselves, researchers may have opened a new route to microscopic devices, including nanoscale electronics.

Like Tinkertoys or Lincoln Logs, the molecules connect to each other only at certain points. As a result, the molecules build into predictable shapes.

"We believe that this is a breakthrough for advancing molecular nanotechnology," says Takashi Yokoyama of the National Institute for Materials Science in Nagoya, Japan. Yokoyama and his coworkers report the work in the Oct. 11 NATURE.

To make their molecular structures, the researchers tailored molecules, called porphyrins, by adding a chemical appendage to one or more of four possible locations. The researchers then made the molecules adsorb onto a flat, gold surface.

The appendages, called cyanophenyl groups, made predictable linkages with each other. When each porphyrin hosted one such appendage, the molecules organized into trios, for example. When cyanophenyl groups were on opposite ends of each porphyrin, the molecules lined up into wires.

The researchers now plan to measure the electronic and optical properties of the structures, says Yokoyama. He suspects that the new technique could also work with different molecules and on surfaces other than gold, such as silicon. --J.G.
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Title Annotation:molecular nanotechnology
Publication:Science News
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:9JAPA
Date:Oct 20, 2001
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