Kinematic Self-Replicating Machines

© 2004 Robert A. Freitas Jr. and Ralph C. Merkle. All Rights Reserved.

Robert A. Freitas Jr., Ralph C. Merkle, Kinematic Self-Replicating Machines, Landes Bioscience, Georgetown, TX, 2004. Summary Description

The Merkle-Freitas Hydrocarbon Molecular Assembler (Figure 4.42) would be an entry-level molecular manufacturing device which allows the unitary fabrication and extrusion of molecularly precise rigid hydrocarbon product objects, including objects like itself. The Merkle-Freitas assembler is a “minimal assembler” design that requires a minimum of onboard structural complexity so that initial assembler devices can be constructed using the more limited tools and techniques available in a pre-assembler technology environment. Subsequent assembler devices can be conveniently built by the initial assembler device.

The Merkle-Freitas assembler floats in a 2 µm3 liquid-filled room-temperature microfluidic reaction chamber containing n-octane hydrocarbon solvent in which acetylene feedstock molecules are dissolved. Acetylene molecules are mechanically transported into the device and employed as a source of carbon to construct a product object which is slowly extruded from the device, then released from the device upon completion of manufacture. Solvent molecules of n-octane are also mechanosynthesized and exported as a harmless byproduct to carry off excess hydrogen safely, resulting in a zero-pollution manufacturing system. A pair of 7-strut Stewart platform manipulators mechanically operate the feedstock molecule import and byproduct molecule export mechanisms, and also manipulate an onboard mechanosynthetic tool set [1, 2322-2325] to build (1) diamond or other stiff hydrocarbon product objects to molecular precision, and (2) byproduct molecules. The manipulators receive power and step-by-step product/byproduct manufacturing instructions as a series of external pressure pulses broadcast at 10 MHz throughout the solvent fluid. These pulses originate from an acoustic signal generator abutting the microfluidic reaction chamber, and subsequently are transduced by an onboard piston into linear actuation motions which in turn drive manipulator motions coupled through a mechanical control chain system. Tight sliding seals maintain internal vacuum at all times.


Last updated on 1 August 2005