Exponential assembly

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First few steps of partial structural replication via so called "exponential assembly". SVG

Exponential assembly is a method of structural copying with exponential speedup that forms an alternative to full self replication for bootstrapping and scaling up atomically precise fabrication capabilities to macroscopic volumes.

Exponential assembly must not to be confused with convergent assembly.

Defining traits

  • The un-assembled robotic units must be massively parallel pre-produced without self replication. (photo lithograpy / self assembly)
  • The un-assembled robotic units must be layed out in a perfectly orderly fashion over great relative distances.
  • The robotic units must be just complex enough to fulfill their task.
  • All robotic units must share a part of the movement mechanism and their hole control system (note the productivity issue here).


To attain technology level I such systems could be used to assemble smaller systems of the same exponential assembly design but possibly (and probably) of very different structure. Maybe: top level: MEMS system; bottom level: structural DNA nanotechnology. In that case the components for exponential assembly at the self assembled bottom-up side will look very different than the MEMS on the top down side since they are built with very different constructuion methods.

Exponential assembly is claimed/defined to not be true self replication since the units on their own lack functional completeness and the possible range of structural replication is thus limited to the size of the topmost exponential assembly level. It was believed that to gain AP control over matter self replication is impossible to circumvent. This method should deliver a counterexample.

Videos: [1]; Paper: [2]

Note: Do not mix up exponential assembly with convergent assembly.
Convergent assembly in contrast:

  • works the other way around (bottom-up)
  • is used for efficient product production not technology attainment
  • has potentially more layers in the mesoscale that only differ in size not material.


Beside other unfulfilled requirements for hypothetical runaway replication accidents like natural unavailability of premanufactured building blocks and others exponential assembly puts an absolute limit to spacial spread of replicating structures.


External links

  • Exponential assembly described with graphics [3]
  • Paper about exponential assembly: [4]