Light Driven Nano Submarine Could Revolutionize Drug Delivery

When it comes to scientific innovation, there are certain breakthroughs that always feel more like science fiction than science fact. The recent news out of Rice University regarding their work in nanotechnology is just such an unbelievable breakthrough, but it is true! Now a submarine exists that is literally the size of a single molecule. Yes, that’s right. ONE molecule. 244 atoms. But that’s not even the most incredible thing about it.

Rice University is credited with creating the molecule-sized submarine and revealed that this incredible feat of scientific nanotechnology runs purely on light, ultra-violet light to be exact. Not only does it run on UV light it also is pretty fast, running at 18 nanometers per propeller rotation, travelling roughly twenty times its own body length each time the propeller makes a full turn. For a piece of nanotechnology, that is pretty quick.

Besides being just a really cool gadget, this new little submarine has some incredible potential applications ahead of it. The plan is to eventually use these molecule-sized nano subs to transport drugs and other medicines to precise locations in the body. This could revolutionize drug therapies, allowing for higher effectiveness and greater precision in treatments for vascular, cardiac, brain or neurological cancer and other ailments requiring highly accurate drug therapy.

Right now, the nano subs cannot be steered but if light technology continues to improve, we may see the same kind of precision in drug therapy that we are seeing in light-based cardiac arrhythmia regulation research. Still the biggest part of this research, proving the concept, has already been accomplished. Future improvements and breakthroughs in this area will only hasten medical science toward a new horizon in drug and medicine therapy.

Image via Rice University.

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