What’s so special about molecules?
Understanding the behaviour of materials on minute scales – the scales of molecules and individual atoms – is central to helping us design medicines to combat future diseases. There are also other big challenges that working at the molecular scale can help us to solve.
Nanotechnology – the science of the very small – could help us design new solar panels and fuel cells for the energy supplies of the future, as well as molecular computers and new, responsive plastics called smart materials. Nanotechnology is the confluence of lots of different areas of science, including the first molecular science – chemistry – solid-state physics, materials science and synthetic biology. Where chemistry tells us how to make molecules, nanotechnology is like molecular Lego – the science of putting together molecules like building block to make something new. At the level of complexity we’re approaching, computer simulations are becoming more and more important to predict how these blocks will interact, and what properties the things we want to build will have.