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What machines can assemble structures at nano scale?


  • Examples:
  • Environmental Operating Conditions:
  • Energy Requirements:
  • Capabilities
  • Other Features or Problems:


  • Examples:
  • Environmental Operating Conditions: (fluid, air, other?)
  • Energy Requirements:
  • Capabilities
  • Other Features or Problems:


  • Examples:
  • Environmental Operating Conditions:
  • Energy Requirements:
  • Capabilities
  • Other Features or Problems:


  • Multisubstrate "cells"?

How can machines be controlled or programmed to produce structures in space and time?


  • Light (visible, 500nm; x-ray, 0.5nm)
  • Sound
  • Sensors?
  • Other


  • DNA
  • Digital Memory
  • Machine-machine communication
  • Amorphous Computing

How could the machines get energy and materials?

Exogenous Supply

  • Liquid fuel (e.g., diesel)
  • Sugar
  • Other


  • Carbon fixation
    • CO2 quantity in air: 0,00076626 kg/m3 or approx. 1g/m3
    • C quantity air: 0,0002088 kg/m3 or approx. 0.2 g/m3
    • Carbon material density: 1400 kg/m3 => for 1m3 material 6.7*106m3 of air are needed.
    • With air speed or 1m/s → 78 days needed for 1m of CNM
    What about diffusion due to local reduction in partial pressure of CO2?
    Shouldn't be a problem as CO2 is heavier so the molecules will always flow towards the ground
  • Photosynthesis
  • Other

When would it make sense to do this? E.g., what are the costs of building a house for a family of four?

The question can be easily answered with a building cost estimator, like this one. In summary a 1000 SF brick wall house in San Francisco would cost

  • $100,103.00 Material
  • $97,566.00 Labor
  • $3,613.00 Equipment
  • $201,282.00 Total

(the tool generates a much more detailed calculation)

Material costs (should we include environmental costs?)

  • Wood
  • Concrete
  • Brick
  • Mud
  • Adobe
  • Other?

Transportation costs

Construction costs

Maintenance costs

Time costs (e.g., how long does it take?)

Depends very much on material and technology. A wooden house can be fabricated and set on site in 5 days, a house made of concrete or bricks in a few months.

How would all of the above work together as an integrated process / system?

One possible way is the top-down concept, which initiated the first generation of questions. But there are definitely other, maybe better ways.

Top-down AEC (Architecture/Engineering/Construction) related questions:

  1. Modeling
    1. what are the requirements for the digital model?
      • how to integrate utility systems with the geometry?
      • water supply (could it be conducted through nano tubes?)
      • sewage
      • power system
      • communication system
      • HVAC
    2. how to define volumetric zones with required material properties
    3. how to define material properties (bearing strength, onductivity, transparency)
  2. CNM (carbon Nano Mesh - the material)
    1. Any attempts to make it?
    2. What should/could be the physical and chemical characteristics of CNM?
  3. Analysis
    1. How to derive statical model?
    2. What would the structural model look like?
    3. Thermal model?
    4. Since the material zones are homogenious, could we simply use FEM model for all?
  4. Production
    1. How does information flow look like?
    2. What are the requirements for the nano-production (temperature, air flow, humidity)?
    3. What production equipment is required?
    4. How to setup the building site?

Below lies the research question sandbox

How could nanorobots fix CO2 → C + O2?

How fast could nanorobots catch CO2 molecules from a normal atmosphere?

What energy is necessary to decompose a CO2 molecule?

What flux has to be transfered from the projector?

How could a nanorobot build CNM?

How exactly do plants grow?

What self-replication methods could be used?

What is the minimum frequency of self-replication to be effective?

  • 1 nanorobot size ≈ 100 nm → area = 104 nm2
  • 1m2 = 1014 nanorobots → 45 replication cycles
  • 20' per cycle = 15 hours to cover 1m2 starting with 1 nanorobot

Bacteria can make reproduction look easy; can they also be instructed via specific light wavelengths?

  • Yes.

Possible Underlying Engineering Tradeoffs

Implicit (e.g., acorn, bottom up) versus Explicit (e.g., light-directed nanobots, top down) control?

Local Acquisition (e.g., carbon fixation) versus Exogenous Supply (e.g., cane sugar, ammonia) of energy and materials?

Local Assembly (i.e., on site "growth") versus Distal Manufacture / Delivery (e.g., "pumpkin patch")?