Nano walker follows a path of light

Light controls the movements of this nano walker, powered by azobenzene derivatives.

Bonn, March 25, 2019: Research into synthetic locomoting systems on a nanometer scale is currently of great interest. In particular, scientists are developing tiny transport systems, which might be utilized to transport drugs and active substances inside cells or as part of artificial nanofactories. Currently, researchers evaluate a variety of systems to better understand which locomotive processes, methods of control and energy supply systems could be used. 

Now, scientists Prof. Michael Famulok (Max Planck Fellow at research center caesar) and Julián Valero, in a joint cooperation with the Japanese research group of Prof. Hiroyuki Asanuma, have developed a new type of molecular walker. The walker can be controlled by light at different wavelengths. It is made of DNA and moves by utilizing the chemical interactions of molecules. It is called a “walker” since it ambulates on two legs, step by step on a defined path, through the nano world. What makes the walker special is inside its legs: they contain azobenzene derivatives, which can be manipulated by light pulses at different wavelengths. By irradiating the walker with a particular sequence of different wavelengths, its movements can be controlled.

This new design of a nanowalker that is exclusively controlled by light will now be presented in the journal “Angewandte Chemie”. 


Original publication:
Škugor, M., Valero, J., Murayama, K., Centola, M., Asanuma, H., Famulok, M., Orthogonally Photocontrolled Non-Autonomous DNA Walker. Angew. Chem. Int. Ed., 10.1002/anie.201901272, in press.;

Scientific contact:
Prof. Dr. Michael Famulok
+49 (0)228 9656-401

About research center caesar:
The Center of Advanced European Studies and Research (caesar) in Bonn, Germany, is a neuroethology research institute that focuses on the neural mechanisms underlying animal behavior. The institute is operated by a non-profit foundation under private law. Trustors are the Federal Republic of Germany and the Federal State of North Rhine-Westphalia. caesar is closely associated with the Max Planck Society (MPG) and shares its scientific principles. The President of the MPG chairs the Board of Trustees and caesar¹s Directors are Scientific Members of the MPG.


Press Contact

 Sebastian Scherrer
Sebastian Scherrer
Public Relations Officer
+49 (0)228 9656-139