The term used for the manufacturing ofnanoproducts and nanostruc-tures is nanofabrication. One branch of nanofabrication is self-assembly. Self-assembly is a strategy in which objects and devices, such as atoms and molecules, can arrange themselves into an orderly structure or final product without any outside assistance. Self-assembly could occur if you could shake a box of separated puzzle pieces, then look inside the box to see a finished puzzle. The puzzle pieces self-assembled. Materials that self-assemble include snowflakes, salt crystals, and soap bubbles. Each one arranges itself into a pattern.
In the human body, the self-assembly process is similar to the way your bones grow. Individual molecules are formed layer by layer on a surface of the bone. Self-assembly occurs spontaneously when the human body converts food, water, and air into a variety of acids, sugars, and minerals. From these materials cells, blood, tissues, and muscles are created. All of these biological functions are due to the self-assembly of molecules in the human body which continue to build and repair cells and store energy all day long.
What is the advantage of using self-assembling in nanofabrication? One major reason is that to design and assemble nanoparticles atom by atom to make a lot of products is too slow and costly. Also, the atoms are too small for anyone to direct, find, and place individually and quickly.
Did you know?
The term dendrimer was first used and patented by Donald Tomalia and others and Dow Chemical in the 1980s.
Self-Assembly. Many researchers are exploring self-assembly of molecules at the nanoscale to produce structures. In this activity, middle school students are modeling how self-assembly takes place. In this activity several LEGO*® blocks are placed peg-side down on water. In time, the bricks will interact with the surface tension of the water and with each other to assemble into a pattern. (Courtesy Dean Campbell)
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