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Archive for the 'Molecular manufacturing' Category

The potentially world-changing research that no one knows about

Posted by Stephanie C on October 29th, 2012

Too much reliance on opportunity-based research could significantly hinder scientific advancement. We have the ability now to explore the specifics of potential future technologies, and the knowledge gained could, in turn, add useful and possibly surprising priorities for research today.

Biological molecular motors programmed to run DNA chasis

Posted by Jim Lewis on October 17th, 2012

Two types of biological molecular motors that run in opposite directions along a protein track can be used in different arrangements to either move a complex DNA cargo along the track or engage in a tug-of-war.

Metal-organic frameworks provide large molecular cages for nanotechnology

Posted by Jim Lewis on October 10th, 2012

Large molecular cages constructed from metal-organic frameworks have set a record for the greatest surface area in the least mass.

Metal-organic frameworks (MOFs) are back in the news again. A few months ago we cited the use of MOFs by Canadian chemists to self-assemble a molecular wheel on an axis in a solid material. More recently chemists at Northwestern University have used MOFs to set a world record for surface area. From “A world record for highest-surface-area materials“:

Northwestern University researchers have broken a world record by creating two new synthetic materials with the greatest amount of surface areas reported to date.

Named NU-109 and NU-110, the materials belong to a class of crystalline nanostructure known as metal-organic frameworks (MOFs) that are promising vessels for natural-gas and hydrogen storage for vehicles, and for catalysts, chemical sensing, light harvesting, drug delivery, and other uses requiring a large surface area per unit weight.

The materials’ promise lies in their vast internal surface area. If the internal surface area of one NU-110 crystal the size of a grain of salt could be unfolded, the surface area would cover a desktop. …

MOFs are composed of organic linkers held together by metal atoms, resulting in a molecular cage-like structure. The researchers believe they may be able to more than double the surface area of the materials by using less bulky linker units in the materials’ design. …

Beyond their near-term practical applications, Eric Drexler has cited MOFs as potentially useful building blocks in the molecular machine path to molecular manufacturing. Near-term applications may drive the technology development to produce more choices for molecular machine system components.
—James Lewis, PhD

Assembling biomolecular nanomachines: a path to a nanofactory?

Posted by Jim Lewis on October 4th, 2012

A “cut and paste” method uses an atomic force microscope to assemble protein and DNA molecules to form arbitrarily complex patterns on a surface. Developing this approach to form enzymatic assembly lines could be a path toward a general purpose nanofactory.

Measuring individual chemical bonds with noncontact-AFM

Posted by Jim Lewis on September 18th, 2012

Noncontact atomic force microscopy using a tip functionalized with a single molecule provides highly precise measurement of individual chemical bond lengths and bond orders (roughly, bond strength).

Rational design of peptoids: a route to advanced nanotechnology?

Posted by Jim Lewis on September 7th, 2012

A combination of theoretical and experimental work on peptoids, synthetic analogs of proteins, points to the ability to design peptoids with desired structures and functions.

Toward a method to design any needed catalyst?

Posted by Jim Lewis on August 6th, 2012

Computational insights into a fundamental organic synthesis reaction may lead to the ability to design a catalyst for any desired reaction.

3D printers as universal chemistry sets for nanotechnology

Posted by Jim Lewis on July 26th, 2012

Researchers have configured a 3D printer as an inexpensive, automated discovery platform for synthetic chemistry. A road to more complex molecular building blocks for nanotechnology?

New online game to design RNA molecules: advancing nanotechnology?

Posted by Jim Lewis on July 16th, 2012

A new online game allows players to design RNA molecules. The most promising designs are synthesized, and the players given real-world feedback on how well their designs worked.

An expanded genetic alphabet could lead to more easily designed proteins

Posted by Jim Lewis on June 22nd, 2012

The demonstration that the process of DNA replication is more flexible than thought should make it easier to incorporate unusual amino acids into designed proteins, which might make it easier to design novel protein machines.

New method to identify intermediates in protein folding

Posted by Jim Lewis on June 12th, 2012

Tryptophan residues introduced at various positions in a protein chain identify folding intermediates that are too short-lived to be structurally characterized otherwise.

Advancing nanotechnology with protein building blocks

Posted by Jim Lewis on June 6th, 2012

A variety of protein cage structures have been constructed by designing specific protein domains to self-assemble as atomically precise protein building blocks in defined geometries.

DNA tiles provide faster, less expensive way to fabricate complex DNA objects

Posted by Jim Lewis on May 31st, 2012

A set of 310 short single-stranded DNA tiles, plus a few additional short sequences for the edges, has been used to form more than a hundred large, complex DNA objects.

New Darpa program may accelerate synthetic biology path to advanced nanotechnology

Posted by Jim Lewis on May 26th, 2012

Darpa has launched a “Living Foundries” program to bring an engineering perspective to synthetic biology to greatly accelerate progress through standardization and modularization.

Foresight Institute on Singularity Hub (video)

Posted by Jim Lewis on May 12th, 2012

Recent interview touches on new Foresight programs and issues in nanotechnology development

Adding to the toolbox for making complex molecular machines

Posted by Jim Lewis on April 4th, 2012

A set of rationally engineered transcriptional regulators for yeast will make it easier to build complex molecular machine systems in yeast, some of which may become useful additions to pathway technologies for atomically precise manufacturing and productive nanosystems.

DNA nanotechnology-based nanorobot delivers cell suicide message to cancer cells

Posted by Jim Lewis on March 8th, 2012

Functioning DNA nanorobots to deliver specific molecular signals to cells were designed by combining DNA origami, DNA aptamers, and DNA logic gates.

Nanotechnology, digital fabrication, and innovation at TED

Posted by Jim Lewis on March 2nd, 2012

A talk at TEDxBerkeley includes nanotechnology among the options for digital fabrication, one of five new rules of innovation.

Novel RNA structural motifs expand tool kit for RNA nanotechnology

Posted by Jim Lewis on February 26th, 2012

New computational methods to explore the rapidly expanding collection of high resolution three-dimensional RNA structures reveal new RNA structural motifs, identifying additional building blocks for complex RNA nanostructures.

Machine learning may improve molecular design for nanotechnology

Posted by Jim Lewis on February 22nd, 2012

A set of machine learning programs can now predict properties of small organic molecules as accurately as can calculations based upon the Schrödinger equation, but in milliseconds rather than hours.