Scientists have created a molecular device that could act as a building block in the super fast computers of the future.
The researchers have created components that could one day be used to develop quantum computers - devices based on molecular scale technology instead of silicon chips.
These would be much faster than conventional computers.
The study, by scientists at the School of Chemistry and the University of Manchester, was published in the journal Nature and funded by the European Commission.
Scientists achieved the breakthrough by combining tiny magnets with molecular machines that can shuttle between two locations without the use of external force.
The manoeuvrable magnets could one day be used as the basic component in quantum computers.
Conventional computers work by storing information in the form of bits, which can represent information in binary code - either as zero or one.
Quantum computers will use quantum binary digits, or qubits, which can represent not only zero and one, but a range of values simultaneously.
Their complexity will enable quantum computers to perform intricate calculations quickly.
This development brings super-fast, non-silicon based computing a step closer. The major challenges we face now are to bring many of these qubits together to build a device that could perform calculations, and to discover how to communicate between them.