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Motion of confined light-driven molecular motors and switches

PhD ceremony:Ms C.L.G. (Cosima) Stahler
When:April 03, 2023
Supervisors:prof. dr. B.L. (Ben L.) Feringa, N.H. (Nathalie) Katsonis, Prof
Where:Academy building RUG
Faculty:Science and Engineering
Motion of confined light-driven molecular motors and switches

The molecular motors discussed in this thesis are a great source of inspiration for many scientists for their ability to convert an input of energy into controlled motion. Much like a car engine converts the energy gained from the burning of fuel into mechanical motion, the molecular motor converts energy in the form of light into controlled rotational movement, but at a much smaller scale. Molecular motors are only a few nanometers in size. The motor consists of two halves connected by a rotational axis. Upon light irradiation one half does a rotational movement around that axis with respect to the other half. Just like a car engine is not able to move down a street by itself and only serves its function when connected to a transmission system, axis and wheels, the molecular motor needs to be integrated in a larger system in order to perform useful tasks. However, compared to the macroscopic world, different circumstances apply in such small size ranges. In contrast to macroscopic objects, molecules are constantly moving through space. When fabricating and operating a molecular motor the challenge lies in hindering the molecular motor from moving randomly, while still maintaining its ability to rotate upon light irradiation.

The work in this thesis is mainly dedicated to the question on how to fabricate motors that can be integrated in or assembled on systems such as surfaces and solid porous materials and the study of their behavior in those confined spaces.