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Science

Unlocking the secrets of nature's nanomotor

Schematic diagram of the rotary motor of the bacterial flagellum   © Courtesy of Keiichi Namba

OSAKA -- The flagellum, nature's version of the rotary motor, helps some bacteria and other single-cell organisms get where they are going.

    The flagellum, extending like a whip from the main body of the cell, works much like a man-made motor. Its spiral of protein filaments spin around, converting torque into thrust. Scientists already know a lot about the structure of the flagellum, but how nature's motor manages to spin so efficiently, using so little energy, remains a mystery.

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