They have a very intriguing set of rules for the 1st ever International NanoCar Race to be held in Toulouse, France in October 2016. From the Centre d’Élaboration de Matériaux et d’Études Structurales (CEMES) Molecule-car Race International page (Note: A link has been removed),
1) General regulations
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 10-10 Torr (UHV) for at least the duration of the competition. The race itself last no more than 2 days and 2 nights including the construction time needed to build up atom by atom the same identical runway for each competitor. 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.
On this gold surface and per competitor, one runway is constructed atom by atom using a few surface gold metal ad-atoms. A molecule-car has to circulate around those ad-atoms, from the starting to the arrival lines, each line being delimited by 2 gold ad-atoms. The spacing between two metal ad-atoms along a runway is less than 4 nm. A minimum of 5 gold ad-atoms line has to be constructed per team and per runway.
The organizers have included an example of a runway,
A November 25, 2015 [France] Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS) press release notes that five teams presented prototypes at the Futurapolis 2015 event preparatory to the upcoming Autumn 2016 race,
The French southwestern town of Toulouse is preparing for the first-ever international race of molecule-cars: five teams will present their car prototype during the Futurapolis event on November 27, 2015. These cars, which only measure a few nanometers in length and are propelled by an electric current, are scheduled to compete on a gold atom surface next year. Participants will be able to synthesize and test their molecule-car until October 2016 prior to taking part in the NanoCar Race organized at the CNRS Centre d’élaboration des matériaux et d’études structurales (CEMES) by Christian Joachim, senior researcher at the CNRS and Gwénaël Rapenne, professor at Université Toulouse III-Paul Sabatier, with the support of the CNRS.
There is a video describing the upcoming 2016 race (English, spoken and in subtitles),
A Dec. 14, 2015 Rice University news release provides more detail about the event and Rice’s participation,
Rice University will send an entry to the first international NanoCar Race, which will be held next October at Pico-Lab CEMES-CNRS in Toulouse, France.
Nobody will see this miniature grand prix, at least not directly. But cars from five teams, including a collaborative effort by the Rice lab of chemist James Tour and scientists at the University of Graz, Austria, will be viewable through sophisticated microscopes developed for the event.
Time trials will determine which nanocar is the fastest, though there may be head-to-head races with up to four cars on the track at once, according to organizers.
A nanocar is a single-molecule vehicle of 100 or so atoms that incorporates a chassis, axles and freely rotating wheels. Each of the entries will be propelled across a custom-built gold surface by an electric current supplied by the tip of a scanning electron microscope. The track will be cold at 5 kelvins (minus 450 degrees Fahrenheit) and in a vacuum.
Rice’s entry will be a new model and the latest in a line that began when Tour and his team built the world’s first nanocar more than 10 years ago.
“It’s challenging because, first of all, we have to design a car that can be manipulated on that specific surface,” Tour said. “Then we have to figure out the driving techniques that are appropriate for that car. But we’ll be ready.”
Victor Garcia, a graduate student at Rice, is building what Tour called his group’s Model 1, which will be driven by members of Professor Leonhard Grill’s group at Graz. The labs are collaborating to optimize the design.
The races are being organized by the Center for Materials Elaboration and Structural Studies (CEMES) of the French National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS).
The race was first proposed in a 2013 ACS Nano paper by Christian Joachim, a senior researcher at CNRS, and Gwénaël Rapenne, a professor at Paul Sabatier University.
Joining Rice are teams from Ohio University; Dresden University of Technology; the National Institute for Materials Science, Tsukuba, Japan; and Paul Sabatier [Université Toulouse III-Paul Sabatier].
I believe there’s still time to register an entry (from the Molecule-car Race International page; Note: Links have been removed),
To register for the first edition of the molecule-car Grand Prix in Toulouse, a team has to deliver to the organizers well before March 2016:
- The detail of its institution (Academic, public, private)
- The design of its molecule-vehicle including the delivery of the xyz file coordinates of the atomic structure of its molecule-car
- The propulsion mode, preferably by tunneling inelastic effects
- The evaporation conditions of the molecule-vehicles
- If possible a first UHV-STM image of the molecule-vehicle
- The name and nationality of the LT-UHV-STM driver
Those information are used by the organizers for selecting the teams and for organizing training sessions for the accepted teams in a way to optimize their molecule-car design and to learn the driving conditions on the LT-Nanoprobe instrument in Toulouse. Then, the organizers will deliver an official invitation letter for a given team to have the right to experiment on the Toulouse LT-Nanoprobe instrument with their own drivers. A detail training calendar will be determined starting September 2015.
The NanoCar Race website’s homepage notes that it will be possible to view the race in some fashion,
The NanoCar Race is a race where molecular machines compete on a nano-sized track. A NanoCar is a single molecule-car that has wheels and a chassis… and is propelled by a small electric shock.
The race will be invisible to the naked eye: a unique microscope based in Toulouse, France, will make it possible to watch the competition.
The NanoCar race is mostly a fantastic human and scientific adventure that will be broadcast worldwide. [emphasis mine]
Good luck to all the competitors.