Icra04self

Icra04self - Active Self-Assembly Daniel Arbuckle and Aristides A G Requicha Laboratory for Molecular Robotics University of Southern California

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Active Self-Assembly Daniel Arbuckle and Aristides A. G. Requicha Laboratory for Molecular Robotics University of Southern California Los Angeles, USA [email protected] [email protected] Abstract —Self-assembly is expected to become a dominant fabrication technique for the nanodevices and systems of the future. Traditional, or passive, self-assembly techniques have great difficulty in producing the asymmetric structures needed by the applications. This paper discusses self-assembly methods that use active assembly agents (robots). It shows that swarms of such robots that communicate only by very simple messages can be programmed to form either wholly or partially specified structures, with the construction process possibly involving sacrificial components or scaffolds. The assembly agents have small memory and communication requirements, and interact only when they are in contact. They are good models for future nanorobots, which are likely to communicate chemically. Keywords-nanorobotics; distributed robotics; reconfigurable robotics; swarm robotics; intelligent self-assembly; nanofabrication; state-space reduction; partially specified structures; assembly from primitive shapes; sacrificial structures I. INTRODUCTION Nanotechnology is widely recognized as a crucial technology for the 21st century. However, the fabrication of structures at the nanoscale (1-100 nm) remains a difficult problem. Most of the nanostructures and nanodevices built until now have been assembled by using nanomanipulation with Scanning Probe Microscopes (SPMs), or fabricated by electron-beam or SPM lithography [1]. All of these processes are inherently sequential and inappropriate for mass production. SPM methods may be parallelized by using multi- tip arrays instead of single tips [2], but parallel SPM operations are still slow for industrial purposes. Complex systems are built in nature by self-assembly, a process in which components autonomously assemble themselves. For example, many life processes involve the construction of biomolecules from other molecules that recognize each other when they meet under thermal agitation. Assembly of larger components under surface tension is an interesting example of an artificial version of self-assembly [3]. The known examples of self-assembly rely on the environment to position the various components. These are passive , and are capable only of recognizing and attaching themselves to their mating components (thereby producing a configuration with lower energy). Self-assembly is inherently parallel, and therefore suitable (in principle) for the mass production of nanodevices and systems. However, the artificial structures produced by self- assembly until now tend to be symmetric, while most applications (e.g., nanoelectronics) require asymmetric systems. For example, a typical self-assembled monolayer covers uniformly a given surface. In addition, the components of passive self-assembled systems are "programmed in hardware". In other words, the components themselves must be
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This note was uploaded on 07/22/2008 for the course CS 549 taught by Professor Requicha during the Spring '08 term at USC.

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Icra04self - Active Self-Assembly Daniel Arbuckle and Aristides A G Requicha Laboratory for Molecular Robotics University of Southern California

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