A group of Chinese scientists have transferred the principle of a four-stroke engine to the quantum level. The development promises to say a new word in the creation of atomic-scale nanorobots. Scientists have not yet agreed on the essence of the processes, but the publication in the journal Nature Communications clearly indicates the potential of the work.
It was believed that the stronger the quantum properties of ions, the higher the efficiency of a molecular heat engine. Researchers from the Guangzhou Institute of Industrial Technology, Zhengzhou University and the University of Michigan have shown that the effect depends not only on “pumping” the ion, but also on the skillful suppression of its quantum characteristics. To be more precise, for the most efficient operation—energy release by an ion—it is required to combine both excitation and suppression of a number of its quantum characteristics.
The researchers exposed the calcium ion to laser radiation of different intensity and frequency. At the same time, the intensity of energy release by the ion in the form of a photon flux changed in such a way that the highest efficiency was noted in the “four-stroke” engine mode, when “heating” and “cooling” alternated in a certain order. Prior to this, nothing was known about the increase in efficiency using the suppression of the quantum properties of ions.
“Our research is mainly focused on demonstration. In order to actually produce usable molecular engines or power nanorobots, we need to find a suitable working medium, like water vapor in a steam engine, ”says a note about the invention in the SCMP publication.
Such a conditional environment was discovered in the course of a multifaceted effect on the calcium ion with the help of a laser. Of course, it’s not steam. This is a complex of phenomena in which energy from the outside (with the help of a laser) is transformed into local work. Now scientists need to figure out how to use this phenomenon in practice, as well as to find the most effective irradiation modes for generating maximum efficiency, both in “heating” and “cooling”.