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« Democracy in Many Shapes | Main | Status of Molecular Manufacturing »

February 25, 2005


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Tom Craver

A possible crude assembly technique based on electroplating:

If an atom-sharp needle were given a charge and brought close enough to a neutral-charge but conductive flat surface, it should draw a local induced charge to the surface below, sufficient to draw metal or other conductive material out of solution near the needle and deposit it on the surface below.

Keep the needle in place and a peak of material should build up beneath it. If the needle is close enough to the surface, the width of the peak should only be a few atoms wide - perhaps 1nm.

Moving the needle slowly away (and perhaps in a circular pattern around the peak) should build up a nm wide metal "pillar", as the only charged area on the growing pillar would be near the needle. Angle the needle in horizontally toward the top of a pillar to grow a horizontal bar.

Probably one would want to use many such needles closely spaced and operating in parallel, and build up layers of pattern about 1nm at a time.

It's not atom-precise, and it's certainly not diamond - but maybe it's something that could be done now (AFM, nanotube tips) to start making complex structures close to the scale that would be useful for bootstrapping MM.


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