A 'Genuine Nanorobotic Production Factory'
German scientists have created DNA-driven robotic system that is hundreds of thousands of times faster than anything else in its field by powering a self-assembling DNA nanorobotic arm with electric fields.
(German researchers created a 55-nm-by-55-nm
DNA-based molecular platform with a 25-nm-long robotic arm
that can be actuated with externally applied electrical fields,
under computer control.)
DNA origami has emerged as a powerful tool to build precise structures. But now, “Kopperger et al. make an impressive stride in this direction by creating a dynamic DNA origami structure that they can directly control from the macroscale with easily tunable electric fields—similar to a remote-controlled robot,” notes Björn Högberg of Karolinska Institutet.
The new biohybrid nanorobotic systems could even act as a molecular mechanical memory (a sort of nanoscale version of the Babbage Analytical Engine), he notes. “With the capability to form long filaments with multiple DNA robot arms, the systems could also serve as a platform for new inventions in digital memory, nanoscale cargo transfer, and 3D printing of molecules.”
“The robot-arm system may be scaled up and integrated into larger hybrid systems by a combination of lithographic and self-assembly techniques,” according to the researchers. “Electrically clocked synthesis of molecules with a large number of robot arms in parallel could then be the first step toward the realization of a genuine nanorobotic production factory.”
Science fiction fans of the 1950's know all about the idea of an incredibly tiny factory; they recall the autofac from the 1955 Philip K. Dick short story of the same name:
The cylinder had split. At first he couldn't tell if it had been the impact or deliberate internal mechanisms at work. From the rent, an ooze of metal bits was sliding. Squatting down, O'Neill examined them.
The bits were in motion. Microscopic machinery, smaller than ants, smaller than pins, working energetically, purposefully - constructing something that looked like a tiny rectangle of steel.
"They're building," O'Neill said, awed.
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