For several years, we've had nanomachines with buckyball wheels, able to traverse a gold surface. But these nanocars are tricky to control. Now scientists are staging nanocar races to figure how to make the tiny machines go really, really fast.

Scientists in Texas took the H-shaped nanocar and implemented some of the designs seen on larger scale vehicles. On the front end, they narrowed the axles, and swapped out the larger buckyballs (spheres made of 60 carbon atoms) and replaced them with methyl-scythed p-carborane, which move more easily than the buckyballs. The rear wheels were kept the same, as they afford a strong grip on the gold surface, but the rear axle was widened to increase solubility, and the whole thing linked together by C10 solubilizing groups.

The end result? A nanocar which can operate at a lower heat — and is potentially more maneuverable — than its predecessor. By applying heat or an electric gradient to the gold, these cars move across the field, and have the possibility of being the motion behind the next generation of nanomachines.
[Via Organic Letters]