Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 106
, 6900-6903 (2009)
First-principles design of nanomachines
J. R. Banavar, M. Cieplak, T. X. Hoang, A. Maritan
Learning from nature's amazing molecular machines, globular proteins, we present a framework for the predictive design of nanomachines. We show that the crucial ingredients for a chain molecule to behave as a machine are its inherent anisotropy and the coupling between the local Frenet coordinate reference frames of nearby monomers. We demonstrate that, even in the absence of heterogeneity, protein-like behavior is obtained for a simple chain molecule made up of just 30 hard spheres. This chain spontaneously switches between 2 distinct geometries, a single helix and a dual helix, merely because of thermal fluctuations.