In a demonstration, E. Charles Sykes from the Tufts University, Boston, operated an electric motor made entirely of a single molecule. Measuring just a nanometer in length, according to a report in the New Scientist, the tiny motor has more substance than size.

In the above mentioned demonstration, E.Charles Sykes and his team used asymmetric butyl methyl sulphide, a sulphur atom, complete with a chain of four carbons, and a lone carbon atom on either side.

Previously, the world's smallest electronic motor was a microscopic 200 nanometers across. Not bad, especially when you consider that the average human hair is only 60,000 nanometers wide.

Tufts University, Boston, operated an electric motor made entirely of a single molecule. Measuring just a nanometer, it is set to be published in the journal Nature Nanotechnology. It will be submitted to the Guinness World Records as the smallest electric motor to date.

The demonstration, an impression of which can be seen in the image above also saw the molecule placed atop a copper base using the sulphur atom. The entire setup resembles a propeller, which can rotate freely over the copper - sulphur bond, further stated the report. Right above the molecule, Sykes placed a metal needle at its tip, which was roughly a few atoms wide. The test began when the research team passed current through the needle, leading it down the copper base below, converting the electrical energy to rotational energy, in the process. The energy conversion led to the molecule hopping around 50 times in a second.

There has been significant progress in the construction of molecular motors powered by light and by chemical reactions, but this is the first time that electrically-driven molecular motors have been demonstrated, despite a few theoretical proposals, said E. Charles H. Sykes, Ph.D., lead author of the study, to Science Daily.

Single-molecule motors are not new, but it's the first to be electrically powered. Until now there have been other small motors, but they are driven by either chemicals or light.

A molecular motor powered by electricity has significant advantages over those other technologies, explained Sykes.

The applications of such a motor could impact everything from medicine to computing to really, really tiny cars.