Scroll Top

These programmable DNA nanobots can make new things and replicate infinitely

WHY THIS MATTERS IN BRIEF

When it comes to making big things humanity’s great, but we’re getting better at creating things at the nanoscale too and pushing the boundaries of scifi.

 

Love the Exponential Future? Join our XPotential Community, future proof yourself with courses from XPotential University, read about exponential tech and trendsconnect, watch a keynote, or browse my blog.

In a world first, and another step towards realising the ambition of creating programmable matter, researchers have demonstrated a programmable nanobot, made from a few strands of DNA, that’s capable of grabbing other snippets of DNA, and positioning them together to create new nano-machines and even make copies of themselves.

 

RELATED
World first as AI and Blockchain come together to boost "Robot Intelligence"

 

The DNA robots, according to New Scientist, are created using just four strands of DNA, and measure just 100 nanometers across, so about a thousand of them could squeeze up into a line the width of a human hair.

The team, from New York University, the Ningbo Cixi Institute of Biomechanical Engineering, and The Chinese Academy of Sciences, says the robots surpass previous efforts, which were only able to assemble pieces into two-dimensional shapes. The new bots are able to use “multiple-axis precise folding and positioning” to “access the third dimension and more degrees of freedom.”

These nanobots are often viewed as potential ways of manufacturing drugs, enzymes and other chemicals, potentially inside the cells of the body. But the researchers specifically call out the fact that these machines can “self-replicate their entire 3D structure and functions.”

 

RELATED
This new metamaterial could turn your car into its own airbag

 

They’re not entirely self-contained though, the robots, while “programmable,” act in response to externally controlled temperature and UV light, and they require that UV light to “weld” the pieces of DNA they’re assembling together. But that’s it as far as external influences go.

One other thing standing between humanity and the great Gray Goo apocalypse at this point is the fact that they can’t make copies of themselves – or indeed, anything else – without adequate supplies of the precise snippets of DNA they need.

 

RELATED
Walk in. Shop. Walk out. Amazon unveils its new cashless cashierless store

 

Still, it’s pretty incredible stuff, and a glimpse into the possibilities that are rushing toward us at breakneck pace. Is this what living through the Singularity feels like?

Source: Science Robotics

Related Posts

Leave a comment

EXPLORE MORE!

1000's of articles about the exponential future, 1000's of pages of insights, 1000's of videos, and 100's of exponential technologies: Get The Email from 311, your no-nonsense briefing on all the biggest stories in exponential technology and science.

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This