The defining traits of gem-gum-tec

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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.

There are two core ideas that determine what the R&D direction from early forms of APM to advanced forms of APM actually is.
This wiki will refer to those two ideas with the shorthand "gem-gum".
This shorthand has been chosen since:

  • it is catchy, in other words easy to spell and remember.
    whereas "high throughput atomically precise manufacturing" and "atomically precise manufacturing level technology" are not.
    (Source of these rather long terms: "Radical Abundance")
  • it is highly specific and thus hard to annex by other concepts. It very clearly points to the far term goal
    which the therm "high throughput atomically precise manufacturing level technology" does not.

Digital control over matter is another defining trait. But it has not made it into the name.

The two core ideas of gem-gum-tec


Core idea #1 Gem:
Short for high stiffness gemstone like compound.

Gradual increase of the stiffness of the materials we build with is the ultimate key to raise our level of control over matter (the key to advanced mechanosynthesis). The term "gem" (short for gemstone) points exclusively to the ideal stiff base materials of the far term target technology. This explicitly excludes early stage atomically precise manufacturing such as "structural DNA nanotechnology" from being necessarily present in the far term target technology.

Here's a list of peculiarly good materials from the perspective of mechanical properties:
Base materials with high potential


Core idea #2 Gem-Gum:
Short for gemstone based mechanical metamaterials with seemingly contradicting and impossible properties. "Gum" (in the sense of rubber like stuff) made out of gemstone, is just a catchy example.

Even when one can mechanosynthesize almost nothing (just a few simple base materials) one can make almost anything by mechanical emulation. This is the "magic" of mechanical metamaterials. "Gum" is just a shorthand for one concrete example of such a metamaterial that rhymes on "Gem" which makes memorization a lot easier. Also it's a concrete example that's rather un-intuitive. Rubber made from gemstone. This could peak interest (click-bait effect).

Even with very minimal high stiffness nano-manufacturing capabilities (e.g. just one single high performance compound like e.g. diamond and nothing else) the amount of materials creatable will far exceed what is available today.

Though a small set of base-materials is more useful. Just as a display needs at least three colors for a reasonable colorspace. More materials beyond an already reasonably large set quickly bring only diminishing returns. Except in niche application cases maybe. Like when special electronic properties are needed or so.

The hierarchy of realms of materials

Grey bubble at the bottom: All material properties permissible by physical law.
Red dot (and magnified red bubble): All material properties that can be emulated by gemstone metamaterials (gem-gum).
Blue dot: All material properties that we (or nature) can create today today (2018)


Giving a wild and crude analogy:
What is referred to with "materials beyond" is a bit like the transcentental irrational numbers in math (e, pi, ...).
Albeit we know there are much more of these numbers around than there are rational numbers they
can only be discovered in a one off fashion. More directed development efforts are only possible for subclasses of newly discovered base cases.
"Materials beyond" are not the primary focus for gem-gum tech.

Making almost any physically possible arrangements of atoms – A skill that is neither needed nor highly desired

APM is sometimes said to have the goal to:

  • Create most arrangements (or patterns) of atoms that are permitted by and consistent with physical law.

But that is even beyond the far term goal of gem-gum factories.

Due to the strong "safe side wrong" (more formally "conservative") approach of exploratory engineering the reliably predictable part of future tecnology is just the innermost naked core of what will really emerge. Part of this "innermost naked core" are just a few base materials. But these few alone are, when made into (mechanical) metamaterials, already sufficient for the emulation of an overwhelming plethora of material properties that goes far beyond what we have today (2017).

Much of the yet to come stuff that cannot yet be expected from the incremental path (including fundamentally unpredictable scientific discoveries) may remain in the final systems. But there also often will be strong reasons to ditch earlier legacy technology to not unnecessarily limit the range of situations in which the advanced products will be usable in.
See related page: Consistent design for external limiting factors

The space of all possible gem-gum Materials - Unfathomably big yet also vanishingly small

Gemstone based mechanical metamaterials (here called "gem-gum") are a clear (and relatively simple) far term goal of APM. "Gem-gum" will extend the material properties that are available to us today to material properties that currently are deemed exotic or even contradictory and seemingly impossible.

In the process of getting towards the far term goal of "gem-gum" even further reaching capabilities are likely to become accessible that can provide material properties even beyond those that "gem-gum" can provide. One example would be: Direct mechanosynthesis of digestible food molecules. But these materials are even further out and even harder to predict. Related is: "Synthesis of food".



Base materials beyond dialondeite:

  • Most basic heat resistant base-material is probably transparent gem quality silicon carbide SiC aka moissanite
  • If carbon is very scarce (like on the Moon) then a good base material may be mechadensite.
    or if (highly speculative) building hyper-giant mountain-range sized structures exhausting all of atmospheric CO2 - a far out SiFi problem we want to have with our current CO2 issues (2023).
  • There are a lot of very good Titanium based gems. They are typically electrically (but not mechanically) metallic so may shield against UV by reflection.
  • For more suggestions see:
    Base materials with high potential


Pure metals & alloys are not a good base for gem-gum

See: Pure metals and metal alloys