Digital Agenda for Europe
A Europe 2020 Initiative

Bottom-up intelligent construction – how to make objects grow or self-assemble?

Discussion

This initiative aims to explore techniques and methodologies for bottom-up design, manufacturing, and construction of materials and artefacts at various size scales, ranging from very small (molecular, cellular) to very large (meso and macro scales). The long term goal is to achieve growth or self-assembly of such artefacts, possibly in a scale-invariant way. Inspiration can be found from biological processes like morphogenesis or epigenetics, or in the study of self-organisation, adaptation or evolution in order to design and assemble complex functional materials, artefacts or larger complex structures in cost-effective, reliable and adaptive ways, under relatively affordable conditions (cost and others).

What are we looking for?
•    What should be the orientation of research on this topic? As stated, do you feel it is too broad or, on the contrary, too narrow?
•    Have any recent scientific results been obtained relevant to this topic? Is there already a well-established community on this?
•    Do you know of related initiatives, for instance at national level, or in other continents?
•    What is needed at this point to advance this? More exploration of different ideas? More coordination among groups or related initiatives? A strong push for a precise technological target and, if so, which one? Anything else?

Background: Following the last FET consultation during 2012-13, 9 topics were identified as candidates for a FET Proactive. This topic has not been selected for inclusion in the FET Work Programme for 2014-15. Comments are invited on whether this topic is still relevant, or if any changes would be necessary to take account of recent research results. We are also trying to understand better how to advance these areas.

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Interesting
15 users have voted.

Comments

Gernot Beer's picture

Numerical simulation is a key element in the manufacturing and construction process.
Nothing is manufactured or constructed today without being simulated first on the computer (example A300 jet).
However, simulation still depends largely on mesh generation. It is estimated that more than 50% of the simulation time is
spent in generating a mesh suitable for the analysis. Mesh generation is also a major source of error.
The idea to take data directly from CAD programs has been proposed about 10 years ago and isogeoemtric methods were proposed. Although the transfer of geometrical data has been drastically improved, mesh generation is still necessary.
Little progress has been made since, but recent publications by the author and an upcoming book point towards a way
of mesh free modeling.
My view is that simulation has been neglected and much more reserch effort should be dedicated on this key element of manufacturing and construction.

Interesting
2 users have voted.
Jennifer Kockx's picture

Comments by:
Prof. Marileen Dogterom (department chair Bionanoscience, TU Delft, the Netherlands)
Prof. Cees Dekker (director of the Kavli Institute of Nanoscience Delft, TU Delft, the Netherlands)

Bottom-up construction of (bio-)materials, especially in terms of bottom-up synthetic biology, is a very important, innovative and exciting new area of science. Synthetic biology is a relevant engineering discipline with a wide range of applications ranging from the development of new enzymes, fine chemicals, pharmaceuticals to biofuels. An important area for the future will be the development of minimal synthetic cells.

Hereby our comments:
- In the teaser text we would add synthetic cells and bio-inspired artefacts, and we would restrict the largest scale from ‘very large (meso and macro scales)’ to ‘multicellular, and organ scale’ and add ‘bio’ before artefacts (see changes below):
"Bottom-up intelligent construction – how to make objects grow or self-assemble?
This initiative aims to explore techniques and methodologies for bottom-up design, manufacturing, and construction of biomaterials, synthetic cells and bio-inspired artefacts at various size scales, ranging from very small (molecular, cellular) to multicellular, and organ scale. The long term goal is to achieve growth or self-assembly of such synthetic biological structures, possibly in a scale-invariant way. Inspiration can be found from biological processes like morphogenesis or epigenetics, or in the study of self-organisation, adaptation or evolution in order to design and assemble complex functional materials, artefacts or larger complex structures in cost-effective, reliable and adaptive ways, under relatively affordable conditions (cost and others)."
- The orientation of the research: Limit the scale to ‘from molecular to organ (tissue) scale' and expand this topic to 'biological systems', instead of only materials.
- Recent relevant results in this field: Cellular modules established in vitro; clear steps taken that will lead to a synthetic cell
- Research community and related initiatives: EraSynBio, Synthetic cell initiatives in Germany (around P. Schwille) and in the Netherlands (Gravity program proposal in future rounds)
- What is needed to advance at this point is support of multidisciplinary research (funding, training) with a link to industry and societal partners: Facilitate that the industry can easily get in contact with these multidisciplinary teams (pleasant for industry to have one entry-point where all relevant disciplines cooperate). Since this research is still a relative early/fundamental stage, these multidisciplinary research teams should have the endorsement of companies (no cash commitment). This is necessary to push this field forward in terms of technology.

Interesting
2 users have voted.
Carlos-andres Palma's picture

Below a personal, idealized description of this subject based on the H2020 SME-oriented framework, taking into account the contributions of users ntherodi, nmacimst, nrencist, nbittmbi, nrossici, ntozvale, nkockxje, etc on Nanoarchitectronics, Hierarchical Soft and Hard Materials, Quantum Electrodynamics, Microfluidic fabrication, Multiscale simulations of complex systems, synthetic biology etc.

Regards,

C.-A. Palma

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Complex Intelligent Fabrication – how to make the next generation of complex multicomponent biological, molecular, nanocrystalline devices or materials grow or self-assemble?

Solid-state crystals and recently thin film technologies, have enabled the fabrication of the devices behind today's leap technologies. Interestingly, heteroelement, atomic and nanoscopic complexity are not part of the blueprints behind the leading industry fabrication technologies, leaving room for exponential advances in computing, storage, energy and metamaterials. Europe's emerging technologies vision is to establish technology beyond a single-component, Silicon Valley-like approach, and help in turn consolidate a Nanocrystalline, Cellular and/or Molecular Valley: nanomanufacturing hubs throughout the continent with the potential to reach the next generation of technologies - today. These hubs are expected to create a novel future economy for Europe. These new S&T paradigms include, but are not limited to:

Molecularly precise device (MPD) fabrication: Devices prepared molecule-by-molecule are expected to supersede current thin-film organic technologies. Beyond current applications, with the help of multiscale modelling, precise by-design quantum-electrodynamic and spin-skirmionic organic devices may achieve maximum theoretical efficiencies in energy harvesting and quantum correlation for logic and data storage, among others. Molecular machinery may also allow for emerging technologies based on artificial muscles and microcharge generators. Fabrication of these structures might be scaled-up by microfluidics, self-assembly and artificial ribosome protocols.

Steered biomolecular and cellular material (SCM) manufacturing: Living organisms are the leading constructors of complexity. SCMs are expected to replace and supersede many complex organic materials of common use available only from nature, e.g. by-design silks, woods and carbon fiber materials. Superstrong and light materials made biomolecule-by-biomolecule or cell-by-cell will change the way we fly and move, collect energy from water and wind and create living spaces. These structures might be scaled-up by artificial ribosome and bioengineering protocols.

Nanocrystalline and nanoparticle heteroarchitectonics (NPA): Based on the smallest scale of inorganic electronically confined materials, today, properties of nanocrystals and particles can be almost perfectly tailored. Arrays with different, atomically and nanoscopically NPA components are expected to supersede current communication, computing and visual technologies. Such complex nanocrystallinity can potentially enable large area holographic, cloaking, piezo- and thermoelectricity and other meta- effects, with the potential to change our interacting interface with technology. Ultrafast computing with light and simultaneous communication storage over large distances is theoretically feasible by scaling NPAs. These structures might be scaled-up by microfluidics and self-assembly protocols.

Interesting
2 users have voted.
Tomasz Blachowicz's picture

A typical scenario for scientific discovery relies on observation of natural objects and subsequent derivation of basic functionalities, and might results in introducting new artificial solution in a form of new device. This scheme works for 300 years. That route, however, usualy goes from up to bottom steps - it's classical. The reversed bottom-up approach is. from the above perspective, challenging for FET. Thus, it can be based on observation of "natural phenomena" at atomic, quantum scale, using contemporary devices&metrology and derivation of new material solutions for everyday use. For example, the very sophisticated, atomic-based anisotropies in epitaxial metallic nanolayers, can be applied in textile-based materials, with intentionally introduced anisotropies, where textile yarns and fibers can "follow" in this way the very high-resolved observations. Thus, the search for intelligent materials, heier based on textiles, support the FET proactive approach.

Interesting
1 user has voted.
Wilfred Van Der Wiel's picture

• What should be the orientation of research on this topic?
This topic should include bottom-up functional devices, in particular bottom-up nanoelectronics.

The International Technological Roadmap for Semiconductors (ITRS) predicts that silicon circuits will reach 10 nm feature sizes in a decade. What will happen beyond the 10 nm horizon is an open question, most likely new device and architecture are necessary. One strongly advocated solution is hybrid nanoelectronics, where inorganic (CMOS) and molecular components are integrated. Bottom-up intelligent construction not only offers important technological potential, but also opens up a rich new field of fundamental science.
Two-dimensional self-assembled monolayers can be used for doping materials with charge and/or spins [e.g., Adv. Mater. 23, 1346-1350 (2011); Nature Nanotechnology 7, 232 (2012)]. One-dimensional self-assembled molecular wires show exceptionally high room-temperature magnetoresistance [Science 341, 257 (2013)].
Living organisms are able to achieve prodigious feats of computation with remarkable speed and energy efficiency. Many of these tasks have not been adequately solved using algorithms running on the most powerful computers available today. Natural evolution is a bottom-up process that exploits the emergent physical and chemical properties of molecules. It is par excellence a physical exploitation process. Natural evolution combines the enormous complexity of molecular interactions with the huge parallelism of physical systems. We should aim at emulating Nature and use computer-controlled Darwinian evolution to create sophisticated information processing systems using bottom-up construction and self-assembly.
• Have any recent scientific results been obtained relevant to this topic? Is there already a well-established community on this?
The inclusion of bottom-up construction and molecular self-assembly in (nano)electronics is still in an early stage. There is a growing interest in this direction and some first scientific results have been obtained [e.g. examples from our group: Adv. Mater. 23, 1346-1350 (2011); Nature Nanotechnology 7, 232 (2012); Science 341, 257 (2013)]. There is however no well-established community on this topic, and a FET call would be very beneficial to boost the field to the next level of maturity.

• Do you know of related initiatives, for instance at national level, or in other continents?

Within the Dutch initiative NanoNed (2005-2010) there has been a Flagship Bottom-up NanoElectronics.

• What is needed at this point to advance this?

What is needed to advance at this point is support of multidisciplinary research. Evaluation panels and referees should be carefully chosen to include representatives of all relevant disciplines. Involvement of industry should be stimulated, but not made compulsory.

Interesting
4 users have voted.
Zhangang Han's picture

Coordination of a group of agents with simple designs and functions can jointly solve more complicated problems while maintaining less cost and less error rate. Experiments on the information propagation in collective behavior and the study of patterns resulted from the information sharing is essential for further level researches.

Interesting
1 user has voted.
Group managers
Aymard DE TOUZALIN European Commission Future and Emerging Technology Unit Deputy Head of Unit
Walter VAN DE VELDE European Commission Future and Emerging Technologies Scientific Officer and FET Strategy
Beatrice MARQUEZ-GARRIDO European Commission Future & Emerging Technologies Unit Project Officer
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