When you think of competitive racing, what comes into your mind?
Well, of course, what's more common than the burning rubber, massive stadium and roaring fans? But what if I tell you that there's this kind that has none of that (perhaps except for the latter)?
Enter the Nanocar Grand Prix
- the first ever race of cars made of single molecules. Yes, you heard me right, SINGLE MOLECULES! Hosted and developed by the Center for the Development of Materials and Structural Studies or CEMES, six teams (Germany, France, Japan, Unites States, Switzerland and Austria) came to compete in Toulouse, France.
These nanocars run on silver and gold tracks, and are propelled using periodic electric shocks that are administered by teams through a scanning tunnel microscope. The cars, however, aren't rigidly car-shaped and has gained inspiration from different things like windmills and caterpillars.
"In 1894, the first ever car race was organized between Paris and Rouen and if you look carefully, they decided at that time to keep all kinds of propulsion," says Christian Joachim, a CEMES nanoscientist and the director of the race, told LiveScience. "We accepted a large variation of molecular designs on purpose to try to understand what works best."
And if you're wondering about the results, here it is: The American-Austrian entry, named the NanoPrix Team, came in first with a distance of 450 nanometers over nine hours. This is followed by the University of Basel's Swiss Nano Dragster with 133 nanometers, and then by the Ohio University's Bobcat Nano-Wagon with 45 nanometers. Germany's team, the Technical University of Dresden's Windmill car, had the 4th place for being able to race even just for 11 nanometers. Japan's Nano-Vehicle, however, just reached 1 nanometer before breaking down. And the home team's Toulouse Nanombile Club sadly broke down on the starting line.
"We don't really know, with this technology, what we will get out of it," Joachim said. "Right now, we are just opening up the technology and science."
Maybe soon we'll see a Nano 500 or that Disney and Pixar would make a Cars 4 movie using these molecule-cars. Who knows, right? Who knows.