Full sizeAn electrostatic motor is based on the attraction and repulsion of electric charge. Usually, electrostatic motors are the dual of conventional coil-based motors. They typically require a high voltage power supply, although very small motors employ lower voltages. Conventional electric motors instead employ magnetic attraction and repulsion, and require high current at low voltages. In the 1750s, the first electrostatic motors were developed by Benjamin Franklin and Andrew Gordon. Today the electrostatic motor finds frequent use in micro-mechanical (MEMS) systems where their drive voltages are below 100 volts, and where moving, charged plates are far easier to fabricate than coils and iron cores. Also, the molecular machinery which runs living cells is often based on linear and rotary electrostatic motors.
Nanotube nanomotorResearchers at University of California, Berkeley, recently developed rotational bearings based upon multiwall carbon nanotubes. By attaching a gold plate (with dimensions of the order of 100 nm) to the outer shell of a suspended multiwall carbon nanotube (like nested carbon cylinders), they are able to electrostatically rotate the outer shell relative to the inner core. These bearings are very robust; devices have been oscillated thousands of times with no indication of wear. These nanoelectromechanical systems (NEMS) are the next step in miniaturization and may find their way into commercial applications in the future.
- Molecular motors
- Electrostatic motor