Towards the matter compiler: looking ahead to computer-controlled molecular assembly

Davidson, Calvin Ray (2012) Towards the matter compiler: looking ahead to computer-controlled molecular assembly. Doctoral thesis (DPhil), University of Sussex.

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This thesis addresses the concept of atomically precise manufacturing and aims to examine some likely aspects of the necessary infrastructure and knowledge that will be required from a theoretical standpoint.

By way of introduction, I trace the history of Science Fiction’s influence on scientific research and examine some examples that have specifically inspired the thinking behind nanoscience and nanotechnology. More serious speculation, both in favour of and arguing against the possibility of bottom-up manufacturing is also discussed. I look at two schools of thought; directed assembly, typified by the ambition to assemble molecular structures piece by piece and self assembly, where networks of molecules form into arrays on substrates, imparting novel properties.

Various methodologies and tools available to the nanotechnologist are examined. Density functional theory, as employed in the AIMpro code, and Molecular Mechanics are discussed, particularly in respect of their strengths and weaknesses for use in simulating the kind of nanoscale processes appropriate to nanomanufacturing. The theoretical basis behind scanning tunneling microscopes is also examined, with particular attention paid to their potential for upscaling in the future.

Some components found within scanning tunneling microscopes are simulated using Density Functional Theory. Models of pure tungsten tips are studied at various levels of complexity in order to decide upon a reasonable compromise between accuracy and ease of computation. The nature of the interlayer interaction in few layer graphenes is examined and pristine and defected graphitic surfaces, are studied with a view towards their use as nano-workbenches. Their images as produced in scanning tunneling microscopes are simulated. Density Functional Theory is applied to organic molecules self-assembling on metallic substrates. Specifically, tetracene on a clean copper surface and on an oxygen-terminated copper surface is studied.

Finally, I discuss the significance of the results of each section, taken individually and as a whole, and try to put it into perspective regarding the practicality of actually employing this paradigm realistically in the near future.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Schools and Departments: School of Life Sciences > Chemistry
Subjects: Q Science > QD Chemistry > QD0241 Organic chemistry > QD0415 Biochemistry
Q Science > QD Chemistry > QD0450 Physical and theoretical chemistry
Depositing User: Library Cataloguing
Date Deposited: 17 Jun 2012 13:38
Last Modified: 17 Jun 2012 13:38

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