Documenting the Coming Singularity

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Using DNA to Build Really Tiny Things


Nanotech holds some of the most radical and far-reaching promise for creating a future we can only dream about now. But how do you actually build things that small? You can't shrink yourself down like in the movies, and you can't make the tiny tools unless you know how to build really tiny things, which is where we started this erudite discussion. It so happens that evolution has already discovered the means. After all, it's been building really tiny things for billions of years, and getting better at it every million years along the way. In a huge leap forward, researchers have been able to take advantage of this fact.
In an achievement some see as the "holy grail" of nanoscience, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy's Brookhaven National Laboratory have for the first time used DNA to guide the creation of three-dimensional, ordered, crystalline structures of nanoparticles (particles with dimensions measured in billionths of a meter). The ability to engineer such 3-D structures is essential to producing functional materials that take advantage of the unique properties that may exist at the nanoscale - for example, enhanced magnetism, improved catalytic activity, or new optical properties.
You don't have to understand the details to realize that we are moving very quickly now towards the technological singularity referred to in this blog's title. So hold on tight. It may be a bumpy ride, but it sure will be exciting.

Read the original article.

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