Microcomponents are (re)composable functional units. They make up gemstone based metamaterials and thus provide the basis for advanced atomically precise products. Microcomponents are mainly composed / buit out of standard diamondoid molecular elements and are in the size range from roughly 0.1µm to 5.0µm (see note). Their size constitutes a trade-off between re-usability and space usage efficiency.
Microcomponents are also mentioned on the "assembly levels" page and all over the place on this wiki.
Advantages of microcomponent products vs monolithic ones:
- potential recyclability (see: Global microcomponent redistribution system)
- potential repairability
- product assembly is much more energy efficient
- product assembly is way faster (probably practically instantly by human perception)
Disadvantages of microcomponent products vs monolithic ones:
- additional interface border constraints in system design
- minor loss of material strength
- minor loss of density of functionality
Note: actually even parts as small as a few nanometers in size can be locked out of vacuum if all open bonds are passivated and parts as big as 50 micrometers (=0.05mm) are in most cases still invisible for human eyes.
In the book "Radical Abundance" Eric Drexler introduces them as microblocks. Since I want to especially point to the possibility of including functionality and the possibility of recycling and recomposing we'll call them microcomponents in this wiki.
In advanced nanofactories microcomponent size is limited by the sizes of the building chambers that are void of any gas molecules (assembly level II). Actually this is only the case if a clean non inert gas (e.g. air) environment is introduced at the soonest possible point (that is assembly level III).
For the creation of bulk monolithic (un-recyclable) structures a nanofactory must be completely "filled" with vacuum (or noble gas) - not only the lowest levels. The microcomponent manipulators (assembly level III) then too can fuse diamondoid surface interfaces together. Higher stages of convergent assembly of bulk monolithic crystals may need to be avoided because self alignment becomes more difficult. See Nanosystems Fig 14.1. for a possible approach.
- should have no exposed open bonds ( = chemical radicals) on their external surfaces
- should preferably use reversible locking mechanisms
- should be meaningfully tagged
In the simplest case one could use a simple cube as delimiting base shape. Stacking them then forms a simple cubic microcomponent crystal. To get less anisotropic behavior of metamaterials one can make them have the shape of either of:
- truncated octahedrons   (the Wigner Seitz cell of the body centered cubic system bcc) preserve parts of the cubes <100> surface planes and expose much of the <111> octahedral planes which are conveniently normal to diamond bonds (when standard orientation is choosen for the majority of the internal crystalline components) Completely flat surfaces for Van der Waals bonding can be used since partly finished assemblies always have (in contrast to partly finished assemblies of simple cubes) dents that prevent side-ward sliding.
- rhombic dodecaherdons (the Wigner Seitz cell of the face centered cubic system fcc)
Base cells of more complicated crystal structures or even quasi-crystals will make geometric reasoning exceedingly hard and will therefore probably only be considered if needed for a good reason. Some examples:
- tetrahedrons and octahedrons ("geomag-spacefill" which is the octet truss)
- space fills not derived from crystal structure base cells
- Weaire–Phelan structure - structure with the least surface area (yet unproven)
- base cells for quasicrystals with 5,7,9,10,11,... fold rotation symmetries; Symmetric rods with a single global rotation axis can be built. Spacefills can be generated either by straightforward projection from higher dimensional space by subdivision rules or by potentially difficult puzzling. They may have interesting mechanical properties.
Further shapes of practical interest are:
- tubbing segments (like in tunnel construction work) for curved parts of several µm size
- adapter cells from one space-fill to another
- partly rounded cells for outer shells
- and many many more ...
sub microcomponent structures
The inside of a microcomponent is usually a monolithic diamondoid machine structure created by irreversible fusion of surface interfaces in assembly level II irreparable if damaged and at best testable.
Internal reversible joints are possible but may waste too much space. Van der Waals joints (flat surface contact sticking) waste almost no space but one must take care. The internal structure shouldn't be weaker bonded than the bonds between the microcomponents. Accidental or intentional breaking of structures could then create a big mess.
Encapsulating Van der Waals assemblies by shape locking seems to be a good choice if applicable. Like with (sorts/types/letters) in a book printing press a mill style robotic mechanosyntesis cores could be assembled with a reversibly matter-hardcoded program.
super microcomponent structures
Some systems stretch over many microcomponents and thus can't be counted to the diamondoid metamaterials as a whole - they are makro-heterogenous. Diamondoid heat pump systems are one example, nanofactories another.
Systems for quasi welding will be pretty big and probably implemented around the size range of microcomponents and located at distances perceivable by human vision.
- Global microcomponent redistribution system & Recycling
- microcomponent recomposer
- microcomponent maintainance unit
- microcomponent subsystems
- microcomponents are assembled from crystolecules
- putting crystolecules together to microcomponents: Crystolecule assembly robotics
- microcomponents are assembled to product fragment
- putting microcomponents together to product-fragments: Microcomponent assembly robotics
In the stack of convergent assembly the size of microcomponents is the point below which things change. Stages become less similar to each other and there's a change from freely programmable general purpose assembly to hard-coded factory style conveyor belt assembly.