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2 Questions on Nanopart Assembly

brettl writes "Following a discussion with nanodot users last week, I have some specific questions about the creation of nanoscale components that would have to be synthesized to create a nanofactory. I would like to use the example of Drexler's diamandoid bearing."

brettl continues:

Question 1: How will the partially assembled bearing be held in a fixed position in order to add atoms to it? Would a "velcro floor" of atoms that form less powerful bonds be used while assembly is taking place?

Question 2: Is there a reason why a "printer approach" would not be ideal? I'm thinking of a nanoscale version of the modified inkjets that are being tested for synthetic organ construction. Aren't those adding a layer to a 3 dimensional object? Isn't this (admittedly at smaller scale w/ greater accuracy) what nanotech is looking to do?

Please share your views on these AND/OR whether this seems the appropriate forum for these newbie questions.

2 Responses to “2 Questions on Nanopart Assembly”

  1. brettl Says:

    Never Mind on Question 2

    I see that I'm only about 5 years behind the times on that particular idea…Amazing what you can find on Foresight.

  2. RobertBradbury Says:

    Thoughts on questions

    Yes, one could probably use weaker bonding (e.g. hydrogen bonding which is most common in biology) to hold a nanopart in place while forming new covalent bonds. It may be a question of how many hydrogen bonds you can establish and how many atoms you are attempting to add at the same time. But applying atoms (or small molecules) should not exert much force on the part, so the number of hydrogen bonds per atom being applied can probably be kept low. Alternatively, if one is using a biological model to add atoms or molecules (like the ribosome or DNA polymerase) the enzyme tends to be much larger and generally encases the molecules being dealt with. Perhaps the best example of the type of binding you are describing is the MHC proteins in the cells that bind sequences of amino acids (perhaps averaging 10 amino acids long) so they can be presented to T-cells for scanning (to recognize foreign substances within the cells). My immunology professor used a hotdog on a grill analogy to explain this — I've always thought that was good.

    With regard to question 2, I believe that both Northwestern and Stanford have worked on parallel systems (NW with its dip-pen and Stanford with parallel AFM/STM). There are probably several other groups that I'm unaware of.

    As far as I'm concerned its fine to ask such questions. You might however get a faster answer from Google. The trick is to know how to ask the question (for example to check my memory I just Googled on Northwestern and NanoInk).


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