Division of Materials Science, NAIST

Biomimetic and Technomimetic Molecular Science Laboratory

Staff & Contact
Educational StaffProf. Gwenael Rapenne
Associate Prof. Kazuma Yasuhara
Assistant Prof. Toshio Nishino, Kenichiro Omoto
ContactTEL: +81-743-72-6090

There are no physical limitations to the miniaturization of a machine down to the scale of a single molecule or conversely, to monumentalize a molecule until it becomes a machine. A molecular machine is a molecule designed to perform a function providing energy, data or/and orders to the molecule. Inspiration from mother nature and from modern technologies has given rise to the concept of biomimetic and technomimetic molecular machines respectively.

The Biomimetic and Technomimetic Molecular Science Laboratory studies molecules which can act as machines at the nanoscale. Thanks to an input signal as an energy source (light, electron or chemical) these molecular machines can produce a controllable motion and then to a useful output.

Technomimetic molecular machines are molecules designed to imitate macroscopic objects at the molecular level, and also to transpose the motions that these objects are able to undergo. Our originality is in the design of molecular machines and devices operating at the atomic scale for molecular mechanical applications: gears, vehicles, motors, etc. We are designing, synthesizing, organizing and synchronizing such molecular nanodevices to develop energy, communication and information transfer at the nanoscale under the action of light, heat or electrons.


Membrane dynamics, such as morphological change of the cell membrane and molecular assembly in the membrane, are essential molecular mechanisms expressing and/or regulating various cellular functions. We design membrane-active agents which can trigger membrane dynamics and modulate biological functions learning from natural molecular machinery.

Hybrid molecular machines are based on biomimetic and technomimetic approaches to build new generation molecular machines and materials. Insertion of photo or electroactive molecular devices in membranes or in cells may induce some interesting biological activities.

  • Fig. 1 A Molecular motor rotating clockwise or counterclockwise by request.5
  • Fig. 2 Modulation of cell membrane structure by biomimetic molecular machines.
  • Fig. 3 Molecular nanovehicles which participated to the first Nanocar Race.1
  • Fig. 4 A Hybrid molecular motor designed to be inserted in artificial or cell membrane.

1.G. Rapenne, T. Kawai et al, J. Phys. Chem. C 122, 5978 (2018).
2.G. Rapenne, C. Joachim, Nature Rev. Mater. 2, 17040 (2017).
3.Y. Zhang, H. Kersell, R. Stefak, J. Echeverria, V. Iancu, G. Perera, Y. Li, A. Deshpande, K.-F. Braun, C. Joachim, G. Rapenne, S.-W. Hla, Nature Nanotech. 11, 706 (2016).
4.K. Yasuhara, J. Arakida, T. Ravula, S. K. Ramadugu, B. Sahoo, J. Kikuchi, A. Ramamoorthy, J. Am. Chem. Soc. 139, 18657 (2017).
5.U.G.E. Perera, F. Ample, H. Kersell, Y. Zhang, J. Echeverria, M. Grisolia, G. Vives, G. Rapenne, C. Joachim, S.-W. Hla, Nature Nanotech. 8, 46 (2013)


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