Re: why atomic precision assemblers?

From: gary tripp (
Date: Mon Jan 24 2000 - 12:08:50 MST

Robert Bradbury writes:

>On Sat, 22 Jan 2000, gary tripp wrote:
>> Why must we have assemblers that pick and place each atom?

>Well, for things like electronic circuits and multi-wavelength,
>highly efficient lasers, we are starting to get to the point where
>atomic placement accuracy *is* required.

I was thinking that bulk methods might produce very tiny wave guides
or heterostructures for your multi-wavelength lasers which could then be
manipulated and assembled into larger structures. I can see how this might
engender entire industries that create such standardized molecular parts
through bulk chemistry. Yet another industry would arise to develop the
assemblers that would place these parts into useful structures and develop
their controlling software.

>> We wouldn't be able to make everything but we might be able to make
>> useful machines nonetheless.

>Absolutely true. Self-assembling and self-replicating machines
>(two of the three parts of the trinity) do not require atomic assembly.

>> We could make probes for nanomedicine out of these.

>Hmmmm.... I'll only grant this a "maybe". Medicine fundamentally
>happens at the atomic or very small molecule scale. If you want
>probes at that level you are dealing with thousands to millions of
>atoms. This is much smaller than the typical IC & MEMS scales.

I had in mind a micromachine that could navigate the circulatory system
and chip away/dissolve arterial plaque and sned back telemetry on our
vital signs. It could be programmed to deliver a packet of benign viruses
to a specific group of cells for purposes of genetic engineering or it
might deliver a useful dose of chemotherapy to a tiny malignant tumor.

>> Moreover, we may only require a few standard parts to make truly
>> useful structures.

>True. Nano-bricks that can self assemble and are built at a very
>high rate in macroscale factories (or self-sub-assemble using bulk
>chemistry) are very very useful. You could extrapolate this to
>screws that screw themselves, active velcro hooks that "release", etc.



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