By Anupum Pant
In the year 2003, a group of researchers headed by James Tour at Rice university designed and synthesized a series of organic molecules that they thought would get kids interested in chemistry.
These organic molecules resembled human figures and were named Nanoputians - A portmanteau of nanometer (a unit of length used to measure extremely tiny distances) and Lilliputian (the tiny human-like fictional characters from Gulliver’s travels).
The synthesized nanokid molecule basically consisted of two benzene rings and a couple of carbon atoms for its body. For the limbs acetylene units ending in an alkyl group were used. The upper body and the lower part were both created separately, and were joined using Palladium and Copper compounds. Here’s how…
The head of a basic Nanoputian was a 1,3-dioxolane ring. However, after using an advanced microwave irradiation technique, the team created a couple of other variants (called Nanoprofessionals) to replace the Nanokid’s head. Here is what the series of head variants that were created. As if that wasn’t enough, there is a nano ballet dancer too.
Now, in the scientific community, James and his team are better known for synthesizing a much more cooler thing - A nanocar. The nanocar they synthesized was a single molecule car which could be pushed around using a scanning tunnelling microscope. And another one which is fuelled by light!
There are a couple of other cool molecular machines they’ve made too.