World’s Smallest Car Race
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World’s Smallest Car Race

In April 2017, six teams of scientists from all over the world came together for the world’s smallest car race. Teams had to use state of the art electron microscopes to guide their cars on a track hundred times thinner than a strand of hair and even if the distance was so small
the whole race took 30 hours… But what is the purpose of this race and what is a nanocar? My name is Remy Pawlak and I was one of the pilot of the Swiss nano dragster during the first international nanocar race. So the idea is to use an organic
molecule that you synthesize that you adsorb on the surface and then
you have to move the molecule this is what makes your molecule a car in
principle It’s a race you know, you go to win in principle. It’s a bit egocentric, you want to win, you just want
to be fast, good having a good concept of car but at the end you realize
that, well we are all motivated by the same that is to show what we are actually doing and
this was quite beneficial it’s not because we are small that we
are really efficient we’re actually extremely inefficient so the amount of
energy we give to this molecule is lost into the surface and here we have to
think about how to actually optimize this how to transfer correctly the energy we
give, these electrons to the molecule into the motion because most of it is lost into
the surface Hi, my name is Chris Wilmer and my research group is the hypothetical materials lab and we focus on computational studies of different
materials it’s my sense that designing better nanocars today is at least 50% art and 50% science and that a lot of the science right now really just is being used in terms of how to build a nanocar and not why it should have one
design versus another so I think computational modeling, atomistic simulations can play a huge role in helping people figure out what kind of
car they should build yeah I think there are a lot of
technologies that when people begin working on them their utility is not obvious the invention of the airplane was not only met with skepticism in the form of it can’t be done but there were countless number of people who said that it shouldn’t be done or it’s pointless to do there is some quote about you know if humans we were meant to fly, God would have given us wings but all that
sounds so silly and I think that you know in the far future where we can
easily design molecular machines to do useful work for us no one’s going to
question that that’s silly and something like organizing a race
around the nanocar creates some focus for people to demonstrate that
they can make non arbitrary changes to small molecules to impart some simple


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