Nanocars are powered by electrostatic forces from QED induced charges

Nanocars comprising fullerene spherical wheels on hydrocarbon axles are shown to move on substrates by electrostatic forces from charges produced by quantum electrodynamics (QED)

Nanocars evolved from research that began over a decade ago. At the IBM Zurich Research Laboratory, synthetic molecules (S-molecules) on a metal substrate were moved in a controlled and repeatable manner by pushing them with the tip of a scanning tunneling microscope (STM). See … .

The S-molecules included an organic molecule called porphyrin comprising a ring of atoms about 1.5 nanometers in diameter with a metal atom at its center. Groups of hydrocarbons were added to the porphyrin to provide four leg supports. The function of the legs was thought to allow the S-molecule to grip the surface to stabilize random thermal motion. Friction between the legs and the substrate could not have been significant because upon nudging with the STM tip the S-molecules appeared as though they were on rollers.

Quantum Mechanics Explanation
The S-molecule motion may be explained by quantum mechanics (QM). The Einstein-Hopf relationship for the QM harmonic oscillator shows the thermal kT energy of an atom at ambient temperature resides in the far infrared (FIR) beyond 50 microns. Here, k is Boltzmann’s constant and T is absolute temperature. But the S-molecule by its size excludes all thermal radiation beyond a few nanometers, and therefore lacks the heat capacity to conserve the FIR heat absorbed from the contact of the legs with the substrate by an increase in temperature. Upon contact of the legs with the substrate, the S-molecule becomes a part of a macroscopic body that by QM is allowed to have kT energy. But in moving, the S-molecule breaks contact to be momentarily isolated from the substrate, and therefore has excess kT energy above the vanishing small amount allowed by QM.

Lacking heat capacity, the S-molecule cannot conserve the excess kT energy by an increase in temperature. Conservation therefore may only proceed by the QED induced frequency up-conversion of the excess kT energy in the FIR to the electromagnetic (EM) confinement frequency of the S-molecule, which at ultraviolet (UV) levels and beyond has the Planck energy to charge the S-molecule by the photoelectric effect.

The QED induced charge only produces momentary electrostatic interactions. Nevertheless, the S-molecule is held to the substrate by momentary electrostatic attraction instead of by gripping as initially thought. Lateral motion depends on the momentary electrostatic interaction with its neighbors. In a random arrangement of S-molecules, the electrostatic interactions are not symmetric and on that basis alone may initiate motion. Moreover, lateral motion over the substrate occurs by intermittent stick-slip, but small friction at contacts makes it appear as though the S-molecule is on rollers. Regardless, contact neutralizes the charge on the S-molecule and allows the kT energy to be reacquired from the substrate to allow subsequent breaking of contact to produce QED charge. During stick-slip motion, the intermittent QED induced charge occurs very rapidly and may be difficult to detect.

Today, nanocars moving on substrates are more complex than the S-molecules, but the QED charging is the same. Currently, many research groups are engaged in nanocar research typified by Rice University. See ….

In QED charging, nanocars like S-molecules are powered by converting EM energy into mechanical motion. The EM energy may take various forms of heating including light, thermal, Joule, and electron beams. Indeed, nanocars have been shown to move by simply heating the substrate, the form of heat being the same thermal kT energy driving the earlier S-molecules. In effect, nanocars act as FIR to higher frequency up-conversion devices that charge the nanocars by producing momentary electrostatic repulsive forces that produce the observed nanocar motions. Similar arguments allow QED charges to explain the motions of molecular motors under Joule and electron beam heating. See at “Nanocars by Quantum Mechanics”, 2010.

Molecular Dynamics
Unfortunately, the QED charging by which thermal kT energy is converted into powering the nanocar is not included in a conventional MD solution that implicitly assumes atoms have kT energy at the nanoscale. Valid MD simulations in heat transfer need to specify vanishing kT energy in the MD computational algorithms, and if so included would give isothermal temperature solutions. The invalidity of MD in heat transfer at the nanoscale is widespread, e.g., in tribology, see ; whereas, in nanocars, see

MD is not needed for heat transfer at the nanoscale because temperature solutions are, a priori known to be isothermal. However, QED induced charging in nanostructures can and should be included in MD simulations of dynamic response, at least within the restrictions of Newton’s equations.


1. Nanostructures including S-molecules, nanocars, CNT motors and the like act as frequency up-conversion devices that are charged from QED radiation by the photoelectric effect, thereby allowing pair-wise interactions by momentary electrostatic repulsion.

2. MD simulations of heat transfer in nanocars are precluded by QM. At ambient temperature, the thermal heat capacity resides in the FIR beyond 50 microns, and therefore nanocars by their size exclude the heat capacity necessary for heat transfer. MD simulations of heat transfer in nanostructures are simply meaningless.

3. Unlike heat transfer, MD simulations are valid if directed to deriving the dynamic response of nanostructures on substrates under momentary QED induced charges.

Quantum Mechanics In Submicron Thin Metal Films Allows Conversion of the Full Solar Spectrum To Electricity

Quantum mechanics allows heat absorbed in submicron thin metal films over the full solar spectrum to be converted to electrical current by the photoelectric effect.

In 1901, Nikola Tesla described the photoelectric effect in US patent “Apparatus for the Utilization of Radiant Energy.” Charging was accomplished by using a metal plate exposed to ultraviolet (UV) radiation. If applied to solar cells, a polished insulated metal plate will gain a positive charge as electrons ejected from the UV content in sunlight are continually drained to a capacitor. See In his patent, Tesla noted that as the radiation falls on the metal plate, the capacitor will charge indefinitely. One of Tesla’s many US and Foreign patents is shown below.

Today, solar cells are generally not based on Tesla’s photoelectric effect. Instead, the photovoltaic (PV) effect is used where lower intensity visible (VIS) light moves electrons out of the valence band of semiconductors into higher-energy conduction bands, thereby producing electric current at a voltage related to the band-gap energy. But with PV’s made from single crystal or multi crystal semiconductors, the materials comprise up to 40% of the unit cost. Because of this, PV solar cells comprising very thin films of amorphous silicon or copper indium gallium selenide (CIGS) are of great interest because the thin films allow many more cells to be made with the same material, thereby significantly lowering costs. But unlike Tesla’s metal plate that absorbs almost all VIS and UV radiation, semiconductor and CIGS at thin film thicknesses lack the absorption necessary to efficiently capture the full solar spectrm. Organic PV cells now being considered in thin film technology are limited to thicknesses of about 3 microns. See Hong Kong Winter School on Solar Cells at

Moreover, thin film PV cells are usually limited to the VIS part of the solar spectrum. Infrared (IR) light with a wavelength between 0.7 and 300 microns cannot be utilized in PV cells by moving electrons between the valence and conduction bands or by ejecting electrons from metals by Tesla’s photoelectric effect. Nevertheless, IR light comprises a large fraction of sunlight that is lost in the PV solar cells. At sea level, bright sunlight provides about 1000 watts per square meter at sea level. Of this, 527 watts is IR with 445 and 32 watts per square meter in the VIS and UV, respectively.

Submicron Thin Metal Films
Thin film PV technology based on silicon, CIGS, and organic materials is conceptually limited because solar radiation cannot be efficiently absorbed in thicknesses less than about 3 microns. However, thin metal films absorb from the UV to the IR even at submicron thicknesses. In effect, all solar radiation is absorbed in metals, but in thicknesses of a more than a few microns is converted to heat. Neither PV’s or Tesla’s photoelectric effect convert heat to electricity, and therefore another mechanism is required to allow thin metal films to efficiently function at solar cells.

QED Induced Radiation
QED induced radiation allows heat absorbed in thin metal films over the full solar spectrum to be converted to electricity. Here QED stands for quantum electrodynamics. In effect, Tesla’s photoelectric effect is extended to submicron thin film technology. How heat absorbed is converted to electrical current can be understood by quantum mechanics

Classically, heat is transferred by convection, radiation, and conduction, but in thin films is restricted by quantum mechanics to vanishing heat capacity in the thickness direction. Although the specific heat remains at macroscopic values in the in-plane directions, this is inconsequential because there is little if any in-plane temperature changes. See at “Nanofluids and Thin Films”, 2009.

Quantum Mechanics Restrictions
The quantum mechanics restriction is described in the Einstein-Hopf relation for the harmonic oscillator that shows the average Planck energy of an atom at temperature is dispersed with wavelength. At room temperature, the thermal kT energy of the oscillator rapidly vanishes below wavelengths of about 50 microns, and therefore submicron thin films lack heat capacity because their thickness excludes all thermal wavelengths beyond about 1 micron. Here k is Boltzmann’s constant and T absolute temperature. What this means is all solar radiation irrespective of its wavelength that is absorbed in submicron thin films cannot be conserved by an increase in temperature.

Conservation of absorbed Solar Radiation
Nevertheless, the absorbed heat must be conserved. Typically, submicron thin films have EM confinement frequencies in the thickness direction beyond the UV. Here EM stands for electromagnetic. Since heat is low frequency EM energy, conservation may proceed by inducing the heat by QED to be frequency up-converted to levels beyond the UV. In effect, submicron thin films act as frequency up-conversion devices converting VIS and IR solar radiation to UV radiation that has the Planck energy that charges the film by Tesla’s photoelectric effect. In contrast, thin metal films having thicknesses greater than a few microns increase in temperature upon absorbing solar radiation and are inconsequential in solar energy conversion.


1. Thin film technology in PV solar cells is conceptually limited because silicon, CIGS, and organic materials lack the absorption of solar radiation at thicknesses less than about 3 microns.

2. Metal thin films regardless of thickness allow absorption of solar radiation from the UV through the VIS to the IR.

3. Thin metal films having thicknesses greater than a few microns increase in temperature upon the absorption of solar radiation. But in submicron thin films, quantum mechanics precludes the conservation of absorbed solar radiation by an increase in temperature.

4. Conservation of absorbed solar energy in submicron thin metal films may only proceed by QED induced frequency up-conversion to the EM confinement frequency of the thin film in the thickness direction, the latter in the UV and beyond.

5. Thin metal films induce the QED up-conversion of absorbed VIS and IR radiation to UV levels and beyond necessary to free electrons and charge the thin metal film. Without QED induced radiation, the VIS and IR lack the Planck energy to free electrons and produce electrical current.

6. The consequence of QED induced radiation is that submicron thin metal films by Tesla’s photoelectric effect offer the possibility of utilizing the full solar spectrum to produce electrical current.