Virtual DNA makes material

May 18/25, 2005

Researchers from the National Research Council of Canada's Institute for Information Technology have advanced a computer simulation of a system designed to allow machines to self-assemble from vats of chemicals.

The original simulation, dubbed JohnnyVon, showed that virtual objects could be made to form chains, and the chains replicate much like DNA (See Virtual DNA Replicates, TRN, February 26, 2003).

JohnnyVon 2.0 is a simulation and four types of objects floating in a liquid and moving about randomly and a single seed strand, or chain of objects. As the simulation runs, the seed strand self-replicates by bonding with the free-floating objects, then all the copies of the strand self-assemble into a polygonal mesh.

The researchers were able to precisely control the shape and size of the holes in the polygonal mesh simply by selecting the sequence of types of objects in the initial seed strand.

The simulation shows that it is possible to cause materials to self-assemble. If the method were implemented in a real system, it could produce polygonal meshes that could be used as a kind of cloth; such precisely woven cloth would be useful for filtration or as a specialized structural material, according to the researchers.

The next step is to increase the variety of structures that can be produced beyond polygonal meshes, according to the researchers.

A physical implementation that follows the researcher's simulation is at least ten years away, according to the researchers. The researchers' paper describing the work is titled Self-Replicating Strands that Self-Assemble into User-Specified Meshes. -TECHNOLOGY RESEARCH NEWS

Page One

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