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Nanomaker's Toolkit — Methods For Self-Assembly

Soulskill posted more than 5 years ago | from the careful-with-those-nanites dept.

Technology 48

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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Risks involved? (2, Insightful)

santax (1541065) | more than 5 years ago | (#28066955)

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:Risks involved? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28067045)

seeing things that I can not see

eh?

Re:Risks involved? (1)

santax (1541065) | more than 5 years ago | (#28067083)

Dear Anonymous Coward, that was a word-joke. In the Netherlands they would call that a 'Gaaikema-ke'.

Re:Risks involved? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28067087)

Personally I don't like seeing things that I can not see...

I wouldn't worry too much about that.

Re:Risks involved? (3, Funny)

BorgDrone (64343) | more than 5 years ago | (#28067155)

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!

Re:Risks involved? (1)

santax (1541065) | more than 5 years ago | (#28067167)

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.

Re:Risks involved? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28067227)

i guess I'm just being to paranoid.

as opposed to being from paranoid?

Re:Risks involved? (1)

Rip Dick (1207150) | more than 5 years ago | (#28067249)

must be another "word-joke"

Re:Risks involved? (1)

santax (1541065) | more than 5 years ago | (#28067279)

Got me there. English is not my native language. We can continue in Dutch or German if you like?

Re:Risks involved? (1)

ae1294 (1547521) | more than 5 years ago | (#28067361)

Got me there. English is not my native language.

"Thats" ok those of us who are native English speakers don't honestly understand the language "ither"..

We just do as we are told....
ae

I for one... (1)

ae1294 (1547521) | more than 5 years ago | (#28067317)

support my new nanabot overloads currently in control of my higher cognitive function(s)...

Re:Risks involved? (2, Informative)

artor3 (1344997) | more than 5 years ago | (#28067475)

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:Risks involved? (2, Informative)

nasor (690345) | more than 5 years ago | (#28067625)

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.

Re:Risks involved? (1)

Phoghat (1288088) | more than 5 years ago | (#28073715)

Bit of the voyeur there?

self assembly of natural objects is easy (5, Interesting)

LiquidCoooled (634315) | more than 5 years ago | (#28067013)

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]

Re:self assembly of natural objects is easy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28068059)

Ah i remember watching your other videos.

I love the way you have done all this stuff, really nicely done, and very fast.

Re:self assembly of natural objects is easy (1)

arminw (717974) | more than 5 years ago | (#28068959)

...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 nanoparticles into your container and shake it around vigorously in the hope that complicated structures will form?

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

For natural objects the difficult design steps are already done and so you think it is easy, but of course that is hindsight 2020 vision. Every green living thing has cells in it, which by means of photosynthesis assemble the basic elements of carbon, hydrogen, oxygen and assorted other elements into the starting materials for all other living organisms. This is a very complicated process, which the best efforts of highly intelligent researchers have yet to duplicate or even learn exactly how it operates. To me, this screams deafeningly that great intelligence was needed to design this process in the first place.

Re:self assembly of natural objects is easy (1)

LiquidCoooled (634315) | more than 5 years ago | (#28069763)

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 lightening and any number of other actions.

looking out to the stars and planets we see form out of chaos and things like the great spot or even volcanoes on mars.

life itself is just an extension of those processes.

we dont need a god to explain them, but its good to have someone to talk to when we are all alone :)

Re:self assembly of natural objects is easy (1)

arminw (717974) | more than 5 years ago | (#28070183)

....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 of matter and energy independent variables? If they are not, are the properties of matter and energy the result of the laws of physics or is it the other way around? Evolutionists believe that the intrinsic properties of water are why there are exquisite snow crystals. I believe it is the intelligently given laws of physics which determine the unique properties of water, which then give rise to the beauty of snowflakes.

(...life itself is just an extension of those processes...)

It is quite evident from research, that life is governed by rather complex laws and processes. Again, the question is: "Are these laws and processes intrinsic to life or is life determined independently by these laws and processes? It is another one of these chicken and egg problems. What came first the rules and laws by which life operates or did life arise spontaneously and then make up its rules as it went along? In human affairs at least, the intelligent plans come first and then the product is produced according to those plans.

(...when we are all alone...)

The idea of being alone in this immense universe we live in is a very discomforting thought to many. That is why people working on projects like SETI spend millions to try to answer the question: Are we the only intelligent beings in the cosmos? So far from science at least, the answer appears to be affirmative.

Most people instinctively do not like the idea of being alone. In contradiction to the findings SETI, I believe that I am never alone, because I BELIEVE what Jesus said in Matthew 28:20 "And, behold, I am with you all the days until the end of the world."

Trial and error (4, Funny)

hcs_$reboot (1536101) | more than 5 years ago | (#28067025)

Did some researchers, by chance, try such a random arrangement of nanoparticles a few weeks ago in Mexico?

i just got off the toilet (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28067033)

i shit out an obama.

plop!

Re:i just got off the toilet (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28069881)

which one?

Not exactly new... (1)

itsybitsy (149808) | more than 5 years ago | (#28067035)

"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 system as the Alpha Wolf himself proved in A New Kind of Science (http://pathstoknowledge.wordpress.com/2009/05/01/a-new-kind-of-science-by-stephen-wolfram/) and as such this self assembly stuff isn't new.

It might be "new" to us using it consciously but give us a break and don't assume it's new. We are hear because of it! Without self assembly we'd not be here.

Re:Not exactly new... (3, Funny)

Kotoku (1531373) | more than 5 years ago | (#28067071)

We are hear because of it!

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

Re:Not exactly new... (1)

itsybitsy (149808) | more than 5 years ago | (#28067363)

... 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...

Re:Not exactly new... (1)

Kotoku (1531373) | more than 5 years ago | (#28070005)

Yeah, like saving calories will ever work. This is America, y'know! I run a calorie DEFICIT!

Re:Not exactly new... (1)

CRCulver (715279) | more than 5 years ago | (#28067117)

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 of Science [amazon.com] , I'd suggest taking a look first at the Amazon reviews first to get an idea of how worthwhile an enterprise it is.

Re:Not exactly new... (1)

itsybitsy (149808) | more than 5 years ago | (#28067297)

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 simply because you perceive that he's full of pride in his works? You do know that HALF of the 1500 pages are foot notes that has the work stand on the shoulders of the giants before him?

By discounting the man's work simply because of a "perception of him" would be a serious mistake on your part.

aNKS is fundamental to science from this point onward. Have you done anything similar? No? Well then give the man some credit for his work dude and don't ignore it simply because of your prejudices about how he "should be in the world". You think that others in science didn't have strong personalities? Well guess again. Do yourself a favor and read the work and judge it not the man. Or not and be ignorant of an important breakthrough in thinking and in computer science that really puts the science into computer science again.

Re:Not exactly new... (1)

iluvcapra (782887) | more than 5 years ago | (#28068267)

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.

Re:Not exactly new... (1)

itsybitsy (149808) | more than 5 years ago | (#28070687)

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.

If you can't see how the principles of simple systems such as cellular automata don't apply to the real world you need to read the book again until you do see that. That is assuming you care to have a better understanding of the work rather than your misguided perception of it.

The point is that it's a complex and voluminous work and that it can take a bit of effort to understand all the aspects of it in depth.

Rather than scoffing at the author, Stephen Wolfram, how about reading the work again and actually attempting to think how it could apply to any particular science of your choice?

Grey goo! (2, Interesting)

irp (260932) | more than 5 years ago | (#28067119)

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! :-)

The goo is pinkish not grey! (1)

itsybitsy (149808) | more than 5 years ago | (#28067471)

Haven't you seen the original The Blob movie (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Blob) with Steve McQueen? It's PINKish red goo!!! Ok, in some scenes it's transparent so it might confuse you for being grey...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_AASYGG7mrw [youtube.com]

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gP-KzJbKR_o [youtube.com]

Re:The goo is pinkish not grey! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28067857)

Eventually, gray goo discovers (or happens on the solution through repeated efforts) that it's more efficient to differentiate into specialized parts with specific tasks.

Like filtering wastes, processing new materials. At certain sizes, it even makes sense to form mechanical structures to move materials around, and with the right support structures, even move this mass of individually no-longer completely self-sufficient elements around much more efficiently.

And even sensory and control elements to coordinate this motion to be able to better find and reach materials to incorporate or use to sustain the whole unit.

In short, we are the gray goo.

Re:The goo is pinkish not grey! (1)

itsybitsy (149808) | more than 5 years ago | (#28068009)

oh the horrors are us! run for the hills!

We are the goo, we are the goo!

Re:Grey goo! (1)

artor3 (1344997) | more than 5 years ago | (#28067507)

No, that's self-replication. If we teach our nanobots to make more nanobots out of whatever is laying around, then we're screwed.

interim tech (1)

TheSHAD0W (258774) | more than 5 years ago | (#28067127)

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.

scientific and technological innovation (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28067139)

Support scientific and technological innovation , Let us live better http://www.nowgoal.com/17.shtml [nowgoal.com]

Save me waxing my car... (1)

wiresquire (457486) | more than 5 years ago | (#28067199)

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 made to enhance depth, and look shiny!

ws

Re:Save me waxing my car... (1)

arminw (717974) | more than 5 years ago | (#28069217)

...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.

Ways to self-assemble (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28067309)

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.

Researchers agree (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28067345)

It would be far cheaper and easier, researchers agree, if nanoparticles could just arrange themselves into nanomaterials

Yeah!! That's what happens when a few researchers sit around a table: "It would be cool if..."

I do this everyday (1)

beatbox32 (325106) | more than 5 years ago | (#28067739)

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.

somewhat like netbooks?? (1)

mehrotra.akash (1539473) | more than 5 years ago | (#28067867)

"But the same characteristic that makes nanostructures useful â" size â" also makes working with them no small task."

somewhat like netbooks??

Ship Analogy (1)

shellster_dude (1261444) | more than 5 years ago | (#28069341)

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?

Special Memo To Slashdot: +1, Informative (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28069697)

Is this NEWS? No. This drivel about self-assembly can be found in recent literature on the subject. What's next?
How to paint your dead lawn green so you don't have to water it? How to save money by biking to work rather than driving your gas guzzling Little Three U.S. automobiles?

This story is just a place filler because Slashdot has NO news. Slashot's mission is to distract people from realizing that the United States of America has collapsed. Check outside folks. Do you see any newly temporary tags on automobiles? The average U.S. wage has not increased SINCE 1979 while productivity has increased. The difference between productivity and wages is profit and was lent WITH INTEREST to the workers to substitute for increased wages. The problem is that this credit has now imploded and become a mere fraction of what it was.

Wake up and smell your foreclosures.

Yours In Peace,
Kilgore Trout [youtube.com]

replicators 0.01? (1)

cosanostradamus (1553391) | more than 5 years ago | (#28071773)

. Replicator! [stargate-s...utions.com] .

How do you make ships in bottles? (1)

jw3 (99683) | more than 5 years ago | (#28074027)

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.

NanoChemistry (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28075123)

Any synthetic chemists want to work with bigger reagents? Here you go. That's all this is.

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