Re: Molecular nanotech "trains" and computers

Anders Sandberg (
17 Jun 1999 21:12:20 +0200

Darin Sunley <> writes:

> The article discusses how an ability to make fragments of microtubules
> move more or less precisely along teflon "tracks" may, with refinement
> be the first nanotechnological solution to theproblem of positioning
> nanomachine components.

Microtubuli with dyneines/kinesines on them are quite nice nanosystems to build with. Self assembly, relatively well defined interfaces and all that.

> However, if a technique is worked out for creating switches that can
> switch these trains from track to track, that would be significant to
> build a working computer from this technology, as I've heard some people
> were able to do with macro-scale model trains. (Any references on this
> anybody?)

I think it was mentioned in mathematical recreations in Scientific American a few years back.

> Now granted the trains move along at only 1 micrometer per second, but
> depending on the scale that memory elements etc. could be made at, this
> could still be a viable technology for not particularly fast, but
> highly, highly minaturized computers.
> Comments anybody?

A nice idea. One problem here is to set up the microtubuli network in the required pattern. Microtubuli spontaneously polymerize at one end and dissolve at the other end in the presence of GTP; they seem to be a bit unruly for this application. What you would like to have is to set up the structure and then "lock" it, leaving the proteins to climb around.

Anders Sandberg                                      Towards Ascension!                  
GCS/M/S/O d++ -p+ c++++ !l u+ e++ m++ s+/+ n--- h+/* f+ g+ w++ t+ r+ !y