US researchers have built a proto-prototype nano assembler
The first real steps towards building a microscopic device that can construct nano machines have been taken by US researchers. Writing in the peer-reviewed publication, International Journal of Nanomanufacturing from Inderscience Publishers, researchers describe an early prototype for a nanoassembler.
In his 1986 book, The Engines of Creation, K Eric Drexler set down the long-term aim of nanotechnology – to create an assembler, a microscopic device, a robot, that could construct yet smaller devices from individual atoms and molecules.
For the last two decades, those researchers who recognized the potential have taken diminutive steps towards such a nanoassembler. Those taking the top-down approach have seen the manipulative power of the atomic force microscope (AFM), a machine that can observe and handle single atoms, as one solution. Those taking the bottom-up approach are using chemistry to build molecular machinery.
However, neither the top-down nor the bottom-up approach is yet to fulfill Drexler’s prophecy of functional nanobots that can construct other machines on a scale of just a few billionths of a meter.