Gemstone metamaterial on chip factory

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This article defines a novel term (that is hopefully sensibly chosen). The term is introduced to make a concept more concrete and understand its interrelationship with other topics related to atomically precise manufacturing. For details go to the page: Neologism.

Up: Advanced productive nanosystem
Gemstone metamaterial on chip factories (or gem-gum factories for short) are a main topic of this wiki.

What it is and what it does

A personal desktop gem-gum factory that is in the process of extruding out some product. (Screencap collage of from concept video "Productive nanosystems")

The personal gem gum factory is:

  • Your personal device that can push out virtually every thing* of your daily use.
    (* at least every inedible thing)

The personal gem gum factory makes:

  • Your products that are as cheap as the abundant mining-free raw materials that it processes.
  • Your products that are far superior to today's best and ridiculously expensive high tech products.
  • Your products potentially in an environmentally friendly effluent free way
    (also advanced recycling is faster than producing from scratch)
Graphical Infosheets: [1] (work in progress)

From molecules to super-products

The idea is that such a gem-gum factory will take in simple raw materials on one side.
And out the other side come high performance atomically precise products for very low price without any waste materials beside pure water and warm air. Given enough energy is supplied even the carbon dioxide in plain air could be be used as a resource. As plant's do but quite differently in the details.

Instead of using simple molecule raw materials old microcomponents could be recyclingrecycled. That would take less energy and be faster. Old microcomponents for recycling could be supplied via a global microcomponent redistribution system.

Gem-gum factories will come in a wild variety of form factors. From as small as key-fob sized over phone sized, laptop sized, standalone photocopier sized, garage door sized, and maybe even seaport sized and beyond.

The factories innards – stepwise assembly successively bigger parts

Inside the gem-gum factory products are assembled not right a way as a whole (there is no in place assembly) but in small parts that are successively assembled to sucessively bigger parts via successively bigger robotics. This assembly process to successively bigger parts is called convergent assembly.

The assembly levels are interspersed with the transport levels.

Level after level – A recurring but changing cycle

Going up the levels from the very bottom the resource molecules to the last and topmost assembly level one finds that there is a recurring pattern. The same functionalities need to be done over and over again at different size scales.

Depending on the size scale of the layer the same recurring functionalities need to be provided via somewhat different means. This is because of already predictable design constraints like:

Analyzing these design constraints can give us a crude preview of how the innards of a gem-gum factors might eventually look like. Of course an actual implementation might carry quite some differences. Especially some more or less useful legacy stuff from the bootstrapping pathway will likely be present.

What would actually be inside – mapping out and comparing the recurring process steps

The table in the following section meanders repeatedly through the same functionalities at the different size scales.

  • Rows are functionalities
  • Columns are levels

By going through the columns you see how the same functionality is solved differently for the different size scales.

Here in this wiki the size for the steps for the scales is chosen slightly arbitrary to be 32. Just because:

  • two steps then make roughly 1000 and
  • only four steps suffice to go all the way from big nano (atoms well visible) to small macro (parts well visible for anyone not almost blind)

Size growth is geometric not arithmetic. The successive size-steps multiply.

Stage vs step table

You may meander through this table in two ways:

  • size wise column by column including all the repeating processing steps (including the assembly levels) and/or
  • type wise row by row showing how the chosen aspect of the processing chain changes with scale

Matching to the basic assembly levels there are corresponding design levels.

The assembly levels are about the size and character of the intermediary convergent assembly steps both the assembly systems (assembly chambers, assembly manipulators, ...) and the general character of the product-fragments assembled inside. The design levels are about product design software that matches these levels.

Assembly levels are mostly static and will likely only change significantly when the nanofactory itself receives an upgrade. The design levels are about software tools for actual concrete product design which may change on every production run (with the exception of hard coded assembly in the initial convergent assembly steps).

Caracteristics Level 0 Level I Level II Level III (and up)
Type of Components Molecular fragments
wanted: versatile abundant and nontoxic elements
wanted: standard building blocks (mass produced "nuts and bolts")
wanted: reusable units (possibly indivisible)
Product fragments
wanted: composable metamaterials
Examples for typical Components Fragments of simple compounds CH4, CO2, ... including at least some basic elements: C,H,Si,Ge,...


  • basic machine elements
  • basic structural elements


  • space filling polyhedra
  • adapter-parts
  • muscle motors
  • infinitesimal bearings
  • designed stress strain behaviour
  • power tweakable energy storage
  • thermal switch material
  • air accelerators
Size of component typical comonents (or assembly chambers) Molecule fragments have a fraction of a nanometer in diameter. (C-atoms: d~0.2nm). Assembly cells have same size as in next assembly level (~32nm) Crystolecules ~2nm to 32nm. Assembly cells 32nm and bigger. As needed. Microcomponents ~1000nm = ~1µm. Assembly cells 1µm and bigger. As needed. Product-fragments ~32µm. Assembly cells ~32µm and bigger. As needed. Or direct in place assembly to final product.
Comprehensible size comparison model scale 500.000:1 Model atoms have the diameter of an average human hair (0.1mm) Model crystolecules are from the size of a grain of salt to the size of a playing dice (1mm-16mm) Model microcomponents are the size of a big plant pot (~50cm) Model product-fragments are the size of a house (~16m). A 50m wide soccer court scaled down 1:500.000 is visible by eye - it has the width of a human hair.
Physical Properties (strength, wear, friction and more) atoms are eternally wear free
(for all practical purposes)
inheriting toughness emulated properties via metamaterials
Methods for Connection
(Physical interfaces)
covalent bonds advanced auto-align mechanisms
Character of Manipulators fast mass production/preparation in stiff molecular mills
(employing 3 tip tricks)
conveyor belt factory style assembly stiff manipulators with parallel mechanics akin to steward platform and delta robots conventional factory robot arms with serial mechanics. Even further up at macroscale: Highly dexterous tentacle robotics. Megascale: sparse cranes (of organic shape).
Internal distribution / logistics Moiety routing: Note: even for basic hydrocarbon handling this is quite complex Major rail routing station: Note: Redundancy requires fail safe producers and consumers Minor rail routing station. For microcomponent recomposition
No routing. (?)
Possibly general purpose robotic pick and place.
(Macroscale: Streaming parts through tentacle robotics?)
Airlocks and clean keeping All mechanosynthesis happens under practically perfect vacuum. No airlocks at this scale. Possibly early vacuum lockout of passivated crystolecules. Main vacuum lockout step. Passivated microcomponents can be assembled and disassembled in air. Possibly early clean-room lockout. Bigger product fragments can handle dust and dirt - to a degree.

(TODO: add miniature images and links to table)

Microcomponent recomposers as a separable Subsystem

Note that if you strip a nanofactory of the first assembly layer (and maybe of the second assembly level too) then what you are left with (after fixing open ends) is a microcomponent recomposer.

A microcomponent recomposer

  • may either come as separate standalone device, or
  • the upper assembly layers of a gem-gum factory may be just used as a microcomponent recomposer.

Microcomponent recomposers will likely have an extremely high maximal throughput if designed for that property.

See main page: Hyper high throughput microcomponent recomposition

Nanofactory control

Block diagram of a nanofactory
(TODO: include this broad image overview here)

Self replication of gem-gum factories

Self replication in the bootstrapping process

Highly compact self replication at the nanoscale (as it is present in the obsolete concept of molecular assemblers) is not (!!) a prerequisite for the bootstrapping of advanced nanofactories. For details about how the bootstrapping process could be performed check out the main article: "Bootstrapping".

Self replication in normal usage

Beside a sheer infinity of useful products a gem-gum factory can quickly produce copies of itself. It does not need any special fancy raw materials for this. The necessary raw materials are abundant and everywhere available. Heck even the air you breath works if nothing else is available.

So when you have a gemstone metamaterial on chip factory then you can make more gem-gum factories for all of your friends. Anywhere and anytime. And they can make more copies for all of their friends. Since everyone is linked to every other person on earth through a low number of acquaintanceships, see: wikipedia: six degrees of separation (which btw is not entirely true), you can imagine how fast this can spread. We know it from software. Actually the limiting factor may very well be the the time it will take us to develop these devices.

Specialization pushes self replicative capabilities into the macroscale

A main defining feature a gem-gum nanofactory (if not one of the most important ones) is that while the whole system is general purpose all its various subsystems are highly specialized. Much like what you find in a general purpose computer (moterboard, CPU, main bus, …). There's no magic general purpose computronium inside.

This makes it:

Specialized one-task-only pick and place mechanisms (like molecular mills) can be smaller and faster than general purpose ones. Just as this is the case in macroscale factories.
When every standard part needs it's own production line then a system capable of self replication that needs many part types naturally becomes quite big. Quite big meaning well visible for human eyes. As a wild guess think thumbnail size.

Resillient backup

Strewing out thumbnail sized gem-gum factory save point chips at strategic and random locations over the whole earth that are specially designed for being able to bootstrap gem-gum technology from nothing but the device itself could serve as a worst case backup plan for human technology and civilization.

Alternate names

There are several names for this concept.
Some already existing, some introduced in this wiki.
Some maybe problemaic like the name "Nanofactory"
See main page: Alternatives to the term "Nanofactory".


External links