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« Where to start? | Main | Doomsday Scenarios - SciFi? »

June 13, 2006

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jim moore

Your answer to #6 needs to be updated,
Polyhedral oligomeric silsesquioxane need to be added to the list of potential raw materials. These are literally molecular building blocks. Imagine a molecule that has a core that is cube like, at each of the eight corners is a silicon atom, an oxygen bridges the corners of the cage. Each silicon atom can make four bonds three of them go to making the cube like cage, the fourth bond goes directly out from the cage in the form of a silicon - carbon bond. That carbon has three remaining bonds it can make that allow for a wide variety of functional groups to be attached to the cage.

On each corner of the building block you have places to attach handles, or positioners, or linkers. Combine the building blocks with mechanical positioning and a post curing and we may have a general system for making nano-scale objects.

michael vassar

It seems to me that Silicon Crystals should be considered as well as diamondoid. It's less optimal for the function, but our techniques for working with it are more developed. I think that some people think carbon nanotubes and associated technologies also deserve consideration.

Mike Treder, CRN

Previous long comment (from AYTQ) deleted for being totally off-topic.

Dan S

Silicon crystals are unlikely candidates for MM. Si-Si bond is highly unstable especially in oxydizing atmosphere. Silicates might be a better alternative but Si-O-Si bond angle bending stiffnes is poor. Anyway these materials belong to "diamomdoid" class.

michael vassar

Even if Si-Si bonds are highly unstable in O2, they might easily be worth using during the bootstrapping process, where it's practical to work, say, under an inert atmosphere or at deeply cryogenic temperatures.

Phillip Huggan

I keep tabs on CNTs and am presently retracing some of the late R. Smalley's work, because CNTs give one dimension to aid in metrology. CNTs are a very expensive feedstock and novel methods for joining them together would have to be found. A CNT pathway seems more like a way to make molecular computers than a general purpose manufacturing technology.

Chris Phoenix, CRN

Jim, Tee Toth-Fejel and I suggested POSS in our NIAC work about a year ago. I have some concerns about stiffness, though.

Dan, silicates are interesting to me because their deposition can be catalyzed via protein (R5, silicatein). This implies a possible protein->covalent-solid-lattice bridge.

Phillip, I saw some work a few years ago on growing templated branched CNT structures. That might be a way to start to get mechanical structure. I agree, novel joining would have to be found; DNA-binding has been used to make topological joins (e.g. for transistors) but I suspect it wouldn't be stiff enough for a nanomachine.

We'll be updating the answer to the first subquestion of study 6.

Chris

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