first nano self-assembling machines announced

Damien Broderick (
Thu, 05 Jun 1997 11:15:18 +0000

Two days after my book on the Singularity went to the printers (damn it!),
the Melbourne Age newspaper (5 June, 1997, pp. A1-2) has announced that
Australian researchers at CSIRO, Sydney University and Pacific Dunlop have
built a 100 nanometre biosensor with `moving parts the size of individual
molecules'. The crucial electrical switch is 1.5 nanometres across. `The
biosensor consists of a synthetic membrane... chemically tethered to a thin
metal film coated on to a piece of plastic.' CSIRO's Dr Bruce Cornell, a
Melbourne physicist, sez: `We have a gold electrode which is chemically
reactive with the compounds that we add in solution. Simply as a result of
the compound sticking and bonding onto the gold, they assemble themselves
into a sheet which forms a membrane.' Not exactly drextech, then, and more
like biology or soap films, but another leg up the Spike...

Damien Broderick