Powering rotary molecular motors with low-intensity near-infrared light

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Science Advances  28 Oct 2020:
Vol. 6, no. 44, eabb6165
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.abb6165


Light-controlled artificial molecular machines hold tremendous potential to revolutionize molecular sciences as autonomous motion allows the design of smart materials and systems whose properties can respond, adapt, and be modified on command. One long-standing challenge toward future applicability has been the need to develop methods using low-energy, low-intensity, near-infrared light to power these nanomachines. Here, we describe a rotary molecular motor sensitized by a two-photon absorber, which efficiently operates under near-infrared light at intensities and wavelengths compatible with in vivo studies. Time-resolved spectroscopy was used to gain insight into the mechanism of energy transfer to the motor following initial two-photon excitation. Our results offer prospects toward in vitro and in vivo applications of artificial molecular motors.

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