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Technology Science

Nanomaker's Toolkit — Methods For Self-Assembly 48

Posted by Soulskill
from the careful-with-those-nanites dept.
gabrlknght writes with this excerpt from Science News: "Because nanoparticles are small, a large proportion of their atoms are near the particle's surface. Having fewer neighbors, those relatively unconfined atoms can link in unusual ways, giving materials made of nanoparticles novel properties. But the same characteristic that makes nanostructures useful — size — also makes working with them no small task. Engineering on the nanoscale is like building a ship in a bottle while wearing mittens. It would be far cheaper and easier, researchers agree, if nanoparticles could just arrange themselves into nanomaterials — like dropping the pieces of the ship into the bottle and then sitting back to watch the ship build itself. What scientists are working on now is finding the right chemistry — creating just the right conditions so that natural properties such as charge or magnetism direct the pieces of the ship to come together just so, with the mast above the deck and never below or to the side. This idea, called self-assembly, isn't exactly new. Examples range from the simple separation of oil and vinegar in a bottle of salad dressing to the complex movements of proteins and enzymes — themselves nanosized — reacting in living cells. Scientists have long been inspired by these naturally self-assembling systems. But designing self-assembling systems in the lab, with nanoparticles, presents its own scale of difficulty. And making self-assembled nanomaterials grow large enough to actually be useful is even more challenging."
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Nanomaker's Toolkit — Methods For Self-Assembly

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  • Risks involved? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by santax (1541065)
    I wonder if this really is a good thing. Personally I don't like seeing things that I can not see reproducing on their own. I'm pretty sure this technology will work more against us instead of for us at one point. Although that 3d printer that can print its own parts is pretty cool.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by BorgDrone (64343)

      Personally I don't like seeing things that I can not see reproducing on their own.

      The world is full of things you cannot see reproducing on their own. Your skin is crawling with them. They are in your intestines, reproducing. They are on your mouse, keyboard, monitor. They are on that sandwich you just ate.

      There is no escape!

      • by santax (1541065)
        Well I don't have a problem with bacteria. But i guess I'm just being to paranoid. There is no way that some government or criminal would ever find an application for such devices to strip us from some more privacy and rights.
    • support my new nanabot overloads currently in control of my higher cognitive function(s)...

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by artor3 (1344997)

      This is not self-replication, it's self-assembly. These nanostructures will need a *very* specific set of pieces to all be placed in the same spot, under very specific conditions, in order to assemble. It will never happen without our direct intervention. Remember, because this is self-assembly, not self-replication, it does not require an instance of the structure to already exist. If it were going to happen out of control, it already would have.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by nasor (690345)
      Self-assembling is not the same as self-reproducing. The nanoparticles self-assemble into new materials, films, etc, but they can't produce new nanoparticles. It's like having a pile of bricks that will arrange themselves into a house, but you have to keep adding more bricks to the pile to keep it going.
    • by Phoghat (1288088)
      Bit of the voyeur there?
  • by LiquidCoooled (634315) on Saturday May 23, 2009 @11:31AM (#28067013) Homepage Journal

    self assembly of natural objects is easy, it gets difficult if you want to assemble structures and items not found in nature.

    so it might be possible to find the right chemical conditions to pour chemicals into each other to produce a fractal tree structure for filters or batteries, but we will have trouble fabricating the CAD designed battery casing itself.

    We could probably one day use the self assembly inherent in crystaline structure to generate superior memory units, but would be much more difficult to get it to layout an x86 schematic.

    speaking of self assembly, I have been working on a UI which assembles itself from component pieces in a natural and innovative way
    take a look here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vt7qB37sLLo [youtube.com]

    • by arminw (717974)

      ...but would be much more difficult to get it to layout an x86 schematic...

      If that is difficult, how about constructing an amoeba or paramecium or most any other single celled organism? After all, these are much more complicated on the nanoscale level that all integrated circuits in the world put together. According to evolutionists, all living things evolved by the use of matter and energy alone, with no intelligent input of any kind whatsoever. Why is it that these researchers don't just put assorted nano

      • i said nature, not life.
        crystals and lightening and erosion and rivers and other natural phenomina which occur simply because of the dynamics of movement and energy changes etc.

        if a lava stream runs into the sea natural beautiful rock formations occur dur to the interplay between cold water and hot rock and the process evolves and is fed back on itself to produce beautiful form and sculpture.

        The intricate patterns and connections that soap bubbles make and the elegant connections using shortest paths for li

        • by arminw (717974)

          ....crystals and lightening and erosion and rivers and other natural phenomina which occur simply because of the dynamics of movement and energy changes etc....

          The reason these natural things occur is because of the laws of physics. In human affairs, laws are passed by intelligent? politicians, although it seems that sometimes random probability could do almost as well. Nevertheless, all human laws originate in human minds, even warped minds.

          The question really is: are the laws of physics and the property

  • by hcs_$reboot (1536101) on Saturday May 23, 2009 @11:32AM (#28067025)
    Did some researchers, by chance, try such a random arrangement of nanoparticles a few weeks ago in Mexico?
  • "This idea, called self-assembly, isn't exactly new."

    Yeah, my parents made us of it to make me and my seven other siblings. My parents parents (all four of them) did the same funny. And their parents and so on back though out the dark ages all the way back before the recorded dawn of reason over the delusions of faith (about 500 BC) and science (hard core about 300 years ago) and still back further till the dawn of life and still back further till the dawn of time itself.

    The universe is a computational syst

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Kotoku (1531373)

      We are hear because of it!

      Ear assembly is thrown in for free with your purchase of a self-replicating human.

      • by itsybitsy (149808) *

        ... wait there's more... act now and you'll get a FREE appendix... it's not good for anything but you'll get it with your purchase of a self-replicating human... act now... and we'll even throw in the fat collecting genes with that purchase... don't waste those calories but burning them in your human... store them... for later use... act now... there is no better time than now...

        • by Kotoku (1531373)
          Yeah, like saving calories will ever work. This is America, y'know! I run a calorie DEFICIT!
    • by CRCulver (715279)

      The universe is a computational system as the Alpha Wolf himself proved in A New Kind of Science

      Do you get paid by Wolfram to laud him on Internet fora or something? Though the man himself thought he was squarely establishing himself as one of the greats with that book, it was received by the community as lacking any real original insight and being mostly un-peer-reviewed hype. There was plenty of news about him and the book here on Slashdot at the time.

      If anyone is really considering reading A New Kind o [amazon.com]

      • by itsybitsy (149808) *

        No, the alpha Wolf, Steven Wolfram, has not paid me anything. I've never even talked with him nor met him.

        I'm simply a humble computer scientist who's created actual products (since 1984) with cellular automata in them that do extraordinary and magical things.

        As such A New Kind of Science is a ground breaking tome that does establish Cellular Automata as a key area of research for science and philosophy as well. Much is proven in aNKS that supports Evolution and other hard sciences.

        So you discount the man s

        • by iluvcapra (782887)

          As such A New Kind of Science is a ground breaking tome that does establish Cellular Automata as a key area of research for science and philosophy as well. Much is proven in aNKS that supports Evolution and other hard sciences.

          The main problem with the book, of course, was that while it posits processes and mathematical formalisms that resemble evolutionary processes or, say, crystalization, it didn't make any independently verifiable predictions. It's thousands of pages of riffing on cellular automata, and his basic premise, namely, "these are simple therefore they are ubiquitous, likely, and fundamental" (my words) is groundless and unsupported.

          He also used tons of work without attribution, which is probably the greater sin.

          • by itsybitsy (149808) *

            Yes, it has many predictions with many of those verified and mathematically PROVEN in the book itself.

            You've got a terrible misreading of Wolfram's A New Kind of Science dude. Of course if YOU assume he premise is "these are simple therefore they are ubiquitous, likely, and fundamental" you'll have a negative point of view on it. Remember those are YOUR words which reveal your prejudice against the work, no wonder you've got a negative point of view, you didn't understand what Wolfram had actually written.

            I

  • Grey goo! (Score:2, Interesting)

    by irp (260932)

    Wasn't "gray goo" a hypothetical scenario for self assembly? A matter that were able to convert and absorb anything.

    Personally I don't believe in the possibility of a "gray goo".

    I do however believe in the green stuff... Just take a walk in the forest and you'll see self assembling nano machinery on a scale capable of covering a whole planet! :-)

  • This will last only until we have nanoassembler devices, nanoscale robots which will force these components into the shape we want rather than try to engineer them to fall together properly. Still interesting though.

  • With some of the products on the market now that make use of various Si compounds, and some that claim nano-tech, I would love to see this type of self-arranging -dare I say smart?- nano-tech to form the barrier between my car's paint and the environment. The problem with all sealants and waxes is that they degrade, meaning you (or someone you pay) has to do it at regular intervals. Typically between 1 month and 6 months. I love my car, but hate the polish/seal/wax scenarios :-/

    Bonus points if it can be mad

    • by arminw (717974)

      ...I would love to see this type of self-arranging -dare I say smart?- nano-tech....

      That is like saying you would like to see entropy reversed. AFAIK, only intelligently designed (smart) systems are capable of doing that even only on a local level. Never once, has it ever been shown that the application of energy alone is sufficient to reverse entropy. Pumping water uphill requires energy and reversing entropy requires intelligence.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    There are many ways to self-assemble, normally the most usual are either gravity assembly where the particles settle in a suspension or there are chemical methods such using pH to direct assembly as well as using hydrophillic and hydrophobic groups on the surface of nanoparticles to self-assemble.

  • This sounds similar to the chemical reactions of my body and caffeine. Through some sort of scientific voodoo, I find that a lot of work magically gets done after this mixing of chemicals.
  • "But the same characteristic that makes nanostructures useful â" size â" also makes working with them no small task."

    somewhat like netbooks??

  • I found your ship analogy a little too complicated. Can you re-explain what they are trying to do, using a simpler analogy, hopefully one involving a car?
  • . Replicator! [stargate-s...utions.com] .
  • Reminds me of an old joke:

    "So, how do you do these ships in bottles?"

    "Well, I take some glue, some wooden sticks and some cord and throw it all into a bottle. Then I shake the bottle vigorously until the glue settles. Many funny things come out. Some of them are ships."

    j.

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