Robohub.org
 

Robotic chemistry

by
18 October 2010



share this:

Stochastic self-assembly is a hot topic in chemistry and biology. The general idea is that if you pour building blocks into a recipient and stir, your blocks will eventually react with one another to form new structures. Such self-assembly reactions can be regulated to make sure there is always a desired amount of assembled structures in the mix (tunable reaction network). This can be seen as analogous to the use of enzymes to regulate metabolic reactions in the body.

To understand how such reactions work, Napp et al. built a robotic testbed that can emulate stochastic self-assembly. Their amazing setup presented in the self-explanatory video below uses an air hockey table on which robots float around randomly. There are two types of building blocks in the system, that can self-assemble to form two-piece structures (dimers). A robot is then added to the system to regulate the reaction by splitting assembled structures apart. This robot uses energy each time it disassembles a structure, and needs some time to recharge thanks to solar panels before it can break any new structures. Conveniently, by tuning the speed at which these robots recharge it is possible to modulate the speed at which structures are broken and therefore regulate the amount of assembled structures present in the system over time!



In the future, such systems could be imagined to build a large variety of complex structures, including self-assembling miniature robots.




Sabine Hauert is President of Robohub and Associate Professor at the Bristol Robotics Laboratory
Sabine Hauert is President of Robohub and Associate Professor at the Bristol Robotics Laboratory





Related posts :



Robot Talk Episode 90 – Robotically Augmented People

In this special live recording at the Victoria and Albert Museum, Claire chatted to Milia Helena Hasbani, Benjamin Metcalfe, and Dani Clode about robotic prosthetics and human augmentation.
21 June 2024, by

Robot Talk Episode 89 – Simone Schuerle

In the latest episode of the Robot Talk podcast, Claire chatted to Simone Schuerle from ETH Zürich all about microrobots, medicine and science.
14 June 2024, by

Robot Talk Episode 88 – Lord Ara Darzi

In the latest episode of the Robot Talk podcast, Claire chatted to Lord Ara Darzi from Imperial College London all about robotic surgery - past, present and future.
07 June 2024, by

Robot Talk Episode 87 – Isabelle Ormerod

In the latest episode of the Robot Talk podcast, Claire chatted to Isabelle Ormerod from the University of Bristol all about human-centred design and women in robotics.
31 May 2024, by

Robot Talk Episode 86 – Mario Di Castro

In the latest episode of the Robot Talk podcast, Claire chatted to Mario Di Castro from CERN all about robotic inspection and maintenance in hazardous environments.
24 May 2024, by

Congratulations to the #ICRA2024 best paper winners

The winners and finalists in the different categories have been announced.
20 May 2024, by





Robohub is supported by:




Would you like to learn how to tell impactful stories about your robot or AI system?


scicomm
training the next generation of science communicators in robotics & AI


©2024 - Association for the Understanding of Artificial Intelligence


 












©2021 - ROBOTS Association