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Turkish scientist develops new-generation nano-smart molecules

ANKARA – Anatolia News Agency | 8/6/2010 12:00:00 AM |

A Turkish scientist has developed nano-smart molecules capable of making basic arithmetical operations through chemical reaction.

A Turkish scientist has developed nano-smart molecules capable of making basic arithmetical operations through chemical reaction. 

The invention is a milestone toward developing computers incorporating processors made of nano-molecules. 

Professor Engin Umut Akkaya, a scholar at the Chemistry Department of the Bilkent University in Ankara, who won last year’s Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey, or TÜBİTAK, Science Award, said his many years of research had finally born fruit, adding that he had succeeded in developing a series of molecules capable of sending meaningful optical data to the macroscopic world.

“These kind of molecules were somehow acquired by luck in the past. We were the first to develop the molecule as we designed it ourselves. The system design of the molecule is very good, that is why it has caused waves in the world of science,” Akkaya said.

The molecules, which process ions like zinc and cadmium as input, was entirely designed by his team, he said, adding that the molecules produce various different types of light.

“This molecule is capable of producing light in various wave lengths [or, different colors]. It can take chemical inputs to make arithmetical operations like subtraction and addition, and can produce both chemical and optical outputs.”

The 0.1 nano-cubic meter molecule, which has fluorescent qualities, can only make basic arithmetical operations for now, he said, but added that in the future the molecules could begin encrypting and have wider areas of application.

The invention of the molecule was featured on the cover of the Journal of the American Chemical Society, one of the most prestigious publications in the field of chemistry. 

The invention is a major step toward replacing silicon processors in computers with nano-molecules, said Akkaya, who underlined that the journal had published only seven articles from Turkey in its 132-year history, five of which were the results of his lab research.

Last year TÜBİTAK awarded Akkaya for his molecular synthesis work, an invention that promises to enhance the efficacy of photo-dynamic therapy used in the treatment of cancer.

On the heels of the nano-smart success with molecules, one of Akkaya’s primary aims is now to reach highly superior systems, such as smart medicines.

His team, meanwhile, is also focusing on developing molecular designs that can be controlled externally or which can be programmed. “This means we aim to reach molecular robotics.” 

Akkaya, however, still thinks advancements such as having a computer in the form of liquid – which some thought could be possible within the next 20 years given rapid advancements within the field of nanotechnology at research and development centers at institutes of higher education throughout the world – remains a long way off.

“But based on molecular systems that we laid the basis of today, it is possible to make molecular robotic systems that will carry medicines or multi-functional medicine carrier systems,” he said.

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