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    nanoscience and nanotechnology: small is different

 The world's smallest race

The Nanocar Race is the world’s smallest car race covering the longest distance possible on a gold track for 24 hours, where the vehicles are molecules driven by the interaction with the tip of a scanning tunneling microscope.

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March 2022 - Toulouse (France) and broadcasted worldwide


  What is a nanocar

With a lateral size of a few nanometers, a nanocar is a molecule made of few atoms (100 to 1000) with a distinguishable front and rear. 

  How to control it

The propulsion mechanism depends on the nanocar molecule. Nanocar drivers use the tip of a scanning tunneling microscope (STM) to help jolt their molecules along, typically by just a few nanometers each time, so that the nanocar race takes place on a very small scale. Touching however is forbidden. The vehicles must be drivable using the tunnelling current, without mechanical push from the tip.

  The rules of the race

  • Molecule-vehicle size: from about 100 atoms to the order of 1000 atoms.
  • Only molecule-vehicles with distinguishable front and rear are accepted.
  • Remote control from Toulouse for all teams.
  • No mechanical push during Nanocar Race II.
  • Nanoracing surfaces: determined by the organization committee, for speedy drivers (slalom) or molecule-trucks.
  • Weather conditions: ambient and/or ultra-high vacuum.
pentameric moleculesranking 2nd nanocar race



The research groups led by David Écija and Emilio M. Pérez at IMDEA Nanociencia (Madrid) participated in the second edition of the Nanocar Race in Toulouse, March 2022, and took the podium tied with the Japanese team.

Prof. David Écija

 Prof. David Écija 

Technical team lead

Prof. Emilio Pérez

 Prof. Emilio M. Pérez 

Molecular design lead


 Dr. Koen Lauwaet 

Lead driver


 Dr. Ana Sánchez-Grande 

Second driver

 Dr. Ana Barragán 

Second driver


 Tomás Nicolás 

Molecule design


 nanocar race II

Related news

  • 30.03.2022. IMDEA Nanociencia's Nanohispa takes the podium!!!
  • 17.01.2022. SAVE THE DATE! The 2nd #NanocarRace will be taking place on 24-25 March 2022, with teams from Japan, Sweden, US, Germany, France, and of course SpainThe event will be aired live on YouTube. Follow us on social media for updates on the race!
  • 23.11.2021. Nanocar Race II presentation during the C’NANO Conference 2021. Follow live the presentation on Youtube, on 23rd November 18:00.
  • 16.11.2021. The specialised group GENAM (RSEF, RSEQ) and the company Scienta Omicron sponsors the Spanish team Nanohispa
  • 27.09.2021. The Nanohispa team presents its nanocar SPARC to the organizers (CNRS) in Toulouse and is selected to compete.

Sponsors of the Spanish Nanohispa team

nanocar race II

nanocar race II


Organized by the EU MEMO project (Mechanics with Molecules).