Constructing single molecule-machines? by Christian Joaquim, researcher at CEMES-CNRS

Event information

Start date :16/02/2016

End date :16/02/2016

Time :16:00

Location : Auditorium J. Herbrand - IRIT, UPS, 118 route de Narbonne, 31400, Toulouse


After Blaise Pascal’s calculus clocks, lamps calculators, computers lithographed on the surface of a silicon crystal, what about integrating all or part of an electronic calculator in a single molecule? Even the mechanical machines may be one day miniaturized down to the end of the material world, molecule by molecule.

We will show how the idea of molecular electronics continued for over 40 years and boosted in 1987 by the 1981 invention of the scanning tunneling microscope (STM) had introduced a plethora of questions such as:

  • Are there enough resources in a single molecule 1 nm in size to make a machine?
  • Can Physics provide enough technological paths for exchanging energy and information with one and always the same molecule deposited on a surface?
  • Does synthetic Chemistry allow for enlarging enough a molecule so that it becomes a machine not reaching the size of a protein by elementary function?
  • Much closer from us, would you like to attend in 2016 the first international molecule-car race?


Christian Joachim is Director of Research at the National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS), at the Nanoscience group in the Pico-Lab CEMES-CNRS and adjunct Professor of Quantum Physics at ISAE Toulouse. He was A*STAR VIP Atom Tech in Singapore (2005-2014) and is the head of the WPI MANA-NIMS satellite in Toulouse since 2008. He coordinated the Integrated European projects “Bottom-up Nanomachines“, “Pico-Inside” and “AtMol“( 2011-2014) whose objective was to construct the first ever molecular chip.

Author of more than 260 scientific publications (h = 55), he had presented over 360 invited talks on electron transfer through a molecule, STM and Atomic Force Microscopy (AFM) image calculations, tunnel transport through a molecule, single molecule logic gate, atomic scale circuits, nanolithography, atomic scale electronics interconnects and single molecule-machines.

His book: “Nanosciences, the invisible revolution” (Le Seuil, 2008 – World Scientific, 2009) is giving the history of nanosciences and its political drawbacks to a general public.

He was awarded the IBM France Prize (1991), the Feynman Prize (1997), the CNRS Silver Medal in Chemistry (2001), the Feynman Prize (2005), a Guinness book entry (2011) for the smallest ever functioning nano-gear (1.2 nm in diameter) and was awarded in 2015 a “Star of Europe” for the AtMol EU project.