About Molecular Engine

Purpose of Research

In this research area, we aimed at establishing interdisciplinary principles to develop a molecular device, which we define as "molecular engine". The device is designed to generate mechanical motions by receiving external energy, and converts it to another form of energy. In this regard, experts in different fields, including synthetic chemistry, molecular biology, biophysics, soft matter physics, and analytical science, unite and work together to create nanoscale molecular elements. Moreover, as organizing those elements into microscale, we aim to develop a molecular system that can convert energy into varieties of applications with high conversion efficiency. We will explore the availability of various energy sources with the prospects of being widely used in practice in the future.

Research Outline

In this research area, in order to establish the concept of "molecular engine science", we aim to develp logic to realize energy conversion via mechanical motion, that is, "engine" in each of the different levels on scale, such as a small molecule with a relatively simple structure, a macromolecule capable of forming a higher order structure such as a protein, and its molecular assemblies.
For this purpose, we set up the following four research items for researchers who have demonstrated achievements in experimental, computational, and theoretical fields in artificial molecular machines, biomolecular machines, and molecular assemblies research.

A01:Design of molecular engines
B01:Design of molecular-assembly motions for energy conversion
C01:Precise analysis of molecular engines
C02:Theory and calculation of molecular engines

A01 is in charge of creating molecules that transform various energy sources into different energy forms with bottom-up approach by synthetic chemistry, parts exchange and chimerization between heterogeneous molecules by genetic engineering method, rational design by evolutionary molecular engineering and computational science, and etc.
In B01, we will challenge energy conversion by integrating molecular motions of artificial molecule, biomolecule, and hybrid molecules, using crystal, liquid crystal, polymer film etc.
In C01, using high-speed AFM, single molecule measurement by optical microscope, X-ray crystal structure analysis, physicochemical analysis, we will perform the precise analysis of molecular engines that enables us to understand mechanism of energy conversion by molecules and their assemblies. We also develp a prediction merhods for themal stabilization of molecules under extracellular environment.
C02 will clarify the energy conversion mechanism in motions of molecules and their assemblies by computational science and physics method and opens a path to de novo design of molecular engine.

Expected Outcome and Significance

By mechanical motions, we will be able to obtain design guidelines for a high-efficient energy conversion molecular system which can transform energy stored in various forms such as chemical bonds, electricity, dynamics, and light into other usable energy. It is expected that we can propose new possibilities of autonomous energy conversion.