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Molecular motors are biological molecular machines that are the essential agents of movement in living organisms. Generally speaking, a motor may be defined as a device that consumes energy in one form and converts it into motion or mechanical work; for example, many protein-based molecular motors harness the chemical free energy released by the hydrolysis of ATP in order to perform mechanical work . In terms of energetic efficiency, these types of motors can be superior to currently available man-made motors. One important difference between molecular motors and macroscopic motors is that molecular motors operate in the thermal bath, an environment where the fluctuations due to thermal noise are significant.
Additional recommended knowledge
Some examples of biologically important molecular motors:
Because the motor events are stochastic, molecular motors are often modeled with the Fokker-Planck equation or with Monte Carlo methods. These theoretical models are especially useful when treating the molecular motor as a Brownian motor.
In experimental biophysics, the activity of molecular motors is observed with many different experimental approaches, among them:
Many more techniques are also used. As new technologies and methods are developed, it is expected that knowledge of naturally occurring molecular motors will be helpful in constructing synthetic nanoscale motors.
Non-biological molecular motors
Recently, chemists and those involved in nanotechnology have begun to explore the possibility of creating molecular motors de novo. These synthetic molecular motors currently suffer many limitations that confine their use to the research laboratory. However, many of these limitations may be overcome as our understanding of chemistry and physics at the nanoscale increases. Systems like the nanocars, while not technically motors, are illustrative of recent efforts towards synthetic nanoscale motors.
|This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Molecular_motor". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.|