Basel Universität

UniBasel Team at the first international nanocar race

Unibasel team win first place at the first nanocar race that was held in Toulouse in April 2017.

Track that our Swiss Nano-Dragster followed during the race.

The Nanocar Race, held in CEMES (Toulouse France) is the first-ever race where molecular machines compete on a nano-sized track. The vehicles are a single molecules and must be propelled by a small electric shock from a scanning tunneling microscope (STM) on a Au(111) surface.

Presentation of the race from our sponsor, the Swiss Nanoscience Institute.
We are glad to announce that our team is selected to compete with our molecular prototype : the "Swiss-nano Dragster". The molecule, 4'-(4-Tolyl)-2,2':6',2'-terpyridine, was designed by the group of Prof. Catherine Housecroft from the University of Basel. We conducted first tests on our low-temperature STM to calibrate the molecule evaporation and demonstrated the first controlled displacements by electronic pulses from the STM tip (see movie below). The vehicle will be driven by R. Pawlak and T. Meier of the group of Prof Ernst Meyer on the 15th of October 2016 with the microscope of the CEMES in Toulouse. The event will be broadcasted on the Nanocar Race website.

Press :
We have recently been interviewed in national and local Newspapers :
The Red Bulletin
Die Oberbadische
The Team manager and the two drivers of the Swiss team have recently been interviewed by the Swiss journal, Le Temps !

Basellandschaftlichezeitung !

The Red Bull bulletin

We have recently been interviewed by the Beilstein TV for the nanocar race presentation :

Videos are also available on the Beilstein TV web page.


Pilot 1 & team leader : Dr. Remy Pawlak
Pilot 2 : PhD. Tobias Meier
Pilot 3 (substitute) : Dr. Marcin Kisiel
Web communications and Public relation : Dr. Antoine Hinaut/Dr. Thilo Glatzel
Molecule designer : Prof. Dr. Catherine Housecroft
Project and team leader : Prof. Dr. Ernst Meyer

The molecule-car of a registered team has at its disposal a runway prepared on a small portion of the (111) face of the same crystalline gold surface. The surface is maintained at a very low temperature that is 5 Kelvin = - 268°C (LT) in ultra-high vacuum that is 10-8 Pa or 10-10 mbar or 10-10 Torr (UHV) for at least the duration of the competition. The construction and the imaging of a given runway are obtained by a low temperature scanning tunneling microscope (LT-UHV-STM) and certified by independent Track Commissioners before the starting of the race itself.

Figure: The 4'-(4-Tolyl)-2,2':6',2''-terpyridine molecule were imaged at 4.5K in our microscope by scanning tunneling microscopy (STM) and atomic force microscopy (AFM).

Figure: The Race track. The molecules will have to follow the path in between herringbone structure of a gold (111) surface.

Movie of the controlled displacement of our molecular prototype by electric pulses from the STM tip