Molecular assembler

molecular manufacturinguniversal assemblerUniversal Constructorassemblersnanofactoriesnanofactoryself-replicationuniversal assemblyassemblerAssembler (nanotechnology)
A molecular assembler, as defined by K.wikipedia
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Self-replicating machine

Clanking replicatorself-replicatingself-replicating machines
These include hypothetical machines that manipulate individual atoms and machines with organism-like self-replicating abilities, mobility, ability to consume food, and so forth.
For example, the term clanking replicator was once used by Drexler to distinguish macroscale replicating systems from the microscopic nanorobots or "assemblers" that nanotechnology may make possible, but the term is informal and is rarely used by others in popular or technical discussions.

Molecular machine

nanomachinesnanomachinenanite
A molecular assembler is a kind of molecular machine.
The term is also common in nanotechnology where a number of highly complex molecular machines have been proposed that are aimed at the goal of constructing a molecular assembler.

Mechanosynthesis

mechanically positioning reactive molecules
In 1992, Drexler introduced the related but better-understood term "molecular manufacturing", which he defined as the programmed "chemical synthesis of complex structures by mechanically positioning reactive molecules, not by manipulating individual atoms".
It has been suggested, notably by K. Eric Drexler, that mechanosynthesis will be fundamental to molecular manufacturing based on nanofactories capable of building macroscopic objects with atomic precision.

David Leigh (scientist)

David LeighDavid Alan LeighDavid A. Leigh
Nonetheless, a 2013 paper by David Leigh's group, published in the journal Science, details a new method of synthesizing a peptide in a sequence-specific manner by using an artificial molecular machine that is guided by a molecular strand.
The molecular robot could be programmed to construct any one of four different stereoisomers of a molecular product, a significant step towards a 'molecular assembler'.

Nanotechnology

nanosciencenanotechnologiesnanotech
Confusion and controversy also stem from their classification as nanotechnology, which is an active area of laboratory research which has already been applied to the production of real products; however, there had been, until recently, no research efforts into the actual construction of "molecular assemblers". One of the most outspoken critics of some concepts of "molecular assemblers" was Professor Richard Smalley (1943–2005) who won the Nobel prize for his contributions to the field of nanotechnology.
Molecular nanotechnology is especially associated with the molecular assembler, a machine that can produce a desired structure or device atom-by-atom using the principles of mechanosynthesis.

Molecular nanotechnology

nanotechnologyadvanced nanotechnologymolecular
However, the debate continues, with some of it being summarized in the molecular nanotechnology article.
Another proposed application of molecular nanotechnology is "utility fog" — in which a cloud of networked microscopic robots (simpler than assemblers) would change its shape and properties to form macroscopic objects and tools in accordance with software commands.

Self-replication

self-replicatingreplicationreplicate
However, a single such theoretical molecular assembler might be programmed to self-replicate, constructing many copies of itself.
On a nano scale, assemblers might also be designed to self-replicate under their own power.

Richard Smalley

Richard E. SmalleyRick SmalleySmalley
One of the most outspoken critics of some concepts of "molecular assemblers" was Professor Richard Smalley (1943–2005) who won the Nobel prize for his contributions to the field of nanotechnology.
He was an outspoken skeptic of the idea of molecular assemblers, as advocated by K. Eric Drexler.

Mechanical engineering

mechanical engineermechanicalmechanical engineers
The potential for such devices was part of the mandate of a major UK study led by mechanical engineering professor Dame Ann Dowling.
At the smallest scales, mechanical engineering becomes nanotechnology—one speculative goal of which is to create a molecular assembler to build molecules and materials via mechanosynthesis.

Ecophagy

global ecophagy
This has been called ecophagy or the grey goo problem.

K. Eric Drexler

Eric DrexlerDrexler Eric Drexler’s
A molecular assembler, as defined by K. Eric Drexler, is a "proposed device able to guide chemical reactions by positioning reactive molecules with atomic precision".

Chemical reaction

reactionchemical reactionsreactions
A molecular assembler, as defined by K. Eric Drexler, is a "proposed device able to guide chemical reactions by positioning reactive molecules with atomic precision".

Ribosome

ribosomesribosomal70S
Some biological molecules such as ribosomes fit this definition.

Messenger RNA

mRNAmRNAstranscripts
This is because they receive instructions from messenger RNA and then assemble specific sequences of amino acids to construct protein molecules.

Amino acid

amino acidsresiduesresidue
This is because they receive instructions from messenger RNA and then assemble specific sequences of amino acids to construct protein molecules.

Protein

proteinsproteinaceousstructural proteins
This is because they receive instructions from messenger RNA and then assemble specific sequences of amino acids to construct protein molecules.

Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council

EPSRCEngineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC)Engineering & Physical Sciences Research Council
Beginning in 2007, the British Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council has funded development of ribosome-like molecular assemblers.

Battelle Memorial Institute

BattelleBattelle InstituteBattelle Center for Science & Technology Policy
A technology roadmap project, led by the Battelle Memorial Institute and hosted by several U.S. National Laboratories has explored a range of atomically precise fabrication technologies, including both early-generation and longer-term prospects for programmable molecular assembly; the report was released in December, 2007.

United States Department of Energy national laboratories

national laboratoriesnational laboratoryUnited States Department of Energy national laboratory
A technology roadmap project, led by the Battelle Memorial Institute and hosted by several U.S. National Laboratories has explored a range of atomically precise fabrication technologies, including both early-generation and longer-term prospects for programmable molecular assembly; the report was released in December, 2007.

Science fiction

sci-fiscience-fictionSci Fi
Likewise, the term "molecular assembler" has been used in science fiction and popular culture to refer to a wide range of fantastic atom-manipulating nanomachines, many of which may be physically impossible in reality.

Popular culture

pop culturepop-culturemass culture
Likewise, the term "molecular assembler" has been used in science fiction and popular culture to refer to a wide range of fantastic atom-manipulating nanomachines, many of which may be physically impossible in reality.

Science (journal)

ScienceScience MagazineScience'' magazine
Nonetheless, a 2013 paper by David Leigh's group, published in the journal Science, details a new method of synthesizing a peptide in a sequence-specific manner by using an artificial molecular machine that is guided by a molecular strand.

Rotaxane

rotaxanespseudorotaxane
The structure of the machine is based on a rotaxane, which is a molecular ring sliding along a molecular axle.

Thiol

mercaptansulfhydrylthiols
The ring carries a thiolate group which removes amino acids in sequence from the axle, transferring them to a peptide assembly site.