Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Project MICREAgents: self-assembling smart microscopic reagents to pioneer pourable electronics

29.08.2012
Turning chemistry inside-out
3.4 million Euros from EU programme for international research project

First place in an EU competitive call on “Unconventional Computing” was awarded to a collaborative proposal coordinated by Prof. John McCaskill from the RUB Faculty of Chemistry and Biochemistry.


MICREAgent lablets equipped with autonomous electronics will self-assemble to form microscopic chemical reactors as pairs (gemlabs) or exchange information and chemicals on a docking surface.

Copyright: John McCaskill

The project MICREAgents plans to build autonomous self-assembling electronic microreagents that are almost as small as cells. They will exchange chemical and electronic information to jointly direct complex chemical reactions and analyses in the solutions they are poured into.

This is a form of embedded computation – “to compute is to construct” – in which for example the output is a particular catalyst or coating needed in the (input) local chemical environment. The EU supports the project within the FP7 programme with 3.4 million Euros for three years. Four research groups at RUB will join forces with top teams across Europe, from Israel and New Zealand.

Self-assembling electronic agents

In order to create this programmable microscale electronic chemistry, MICREAgents (Microscopic Chemically Reactive Electronic Agents) will contain electronic circuits on 3D microchips, called lablets. The lablets have a diameter of less than 100 µm and self-assemble in pairs or like dominos to enclose transient reaction compartments. They can selectively concentrate, process, and release chemicals into the surrounding solution, under local electronic control, in a similar way to which the genetic information in cells controls local chemical processes. The reversible pairwise association allows the lablets to transfer information from one to another.

Translating electronic signals into chemical processes

The lablet devices will integrate transistors, supercapacitors, energy transducers, sensors and actuators, and will translate electronic signals into constructive chemical processing as well as record the results of this processing. Instead of making chemical reactors to contain chemicals, the smart MICREAgents will be poured into chemical mixtures, to organize the chemistry from within. Ultimately, such microreactors, like cells in the bloodstream, will open up the possibility of controlling complex chemistry from the inside out.

Computation intertwined with construction

The self-assembling smart micro reactors can be programmed for molecular amplification and other chemical processing pathways that start from complex mixtures, concentrate and purify chemicals, perform reactions in programmed cascades, sense reaction completion, and transport and release products to defined locations. MICREAgents represent a novel form of computation intertwined with construction. By embracing self-assembly and evolution, they are a step towards a robust and evolvable realization of John von Neumann’s universal construction machine vision. Although these nanoscale structures will soon be sufficiently complex to allow self-replication of their chemical and electronic information, they will not present a proliferative threat to the environment, because they depend for their function on the electronic circuit layer that is fabricated as part of their substrate.

RUB collaborators

For the project, Prof. Dr. John S. McCaskill (Microsystems Chemistry and Biological Information Technology) collaborates with Prof. Dr. Günter von Kiedrowski (Bioorganic Chemistry), Prof. Dr. Jürgen Oehm (Analog Integrated Circuits) and Dr. Pierre Mayr (Integrated Digital Circuits). McCaskill’s and von Kiedrowski’s labs at RUB have already joined forces in previous European Projects forging a path towards artificial cells. The ECCell project, for example, that finished in February this year, has laid the foundation for an electronic chemical cell. There, the electronics and microfluidics were exterior to the chemistry: in MICREAgents this is being turned inside out.

Further information

Prof. Dr. John S. McCaskill, BioMIP: Microsystems Chemistry and BioIT, Faculty of Chemistry and Biochemistry at the Ruhr-Universität, 44780 Bochum, Germany, Tel. 49/234/32-27702
john.mccaskill@rub.de

Click for more

Detailed project description
http://aktuell.ruhr-uni-bochum.de/mam/content/projektbeschreibung_micreagents.pdf

BioMIP at RUB
http://homepage.ruhr-uni-bochum.de/john.mccaskill/BioMIP/

Editor: Dr. Julia Weiler

Dr. Josef König | idw
Further information:
http://www.ruhr-uni-bochum.de

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Decoding the genome's cryptic language
27.02.2017 | University of California - San Diego

nachricht New risk factors for anxiety disorders
24.02.2017 | Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Safe glide at total engine failure with ELA-inside

On January 15, 2009, Chesley B. Sullenberger was celebrated world-wide: after the two engines had failed due to bird strike, he and his flight crew succeeded after a glide flight with an Airbus A320 in ditching on the Hudson River. All 155 people on board were saved.

On January 15, 2009, Chesley B. Sullenberger was celebrated world-wide: after the two engines had failed due to bird strike, he and his flight crew succeeded...

Im Focus: Breakthrough with a chain of gold atoms

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

Im Focus: DNA repair: a new letter in the cell alphabet

Results reveal how discoveries may be hidden in scientific “blind spots”

Cells need to repair damaged DNA in our genes to prevent the development of cancer and other diseases. Our cells therefore activate and send “repair-proteins”...

Im Focus: Dresdner scientists print tomorrow’s world

The Fraunhofer IWS Dresden and Technische Universität Dresden inaugurated their jointly operated Center for Additive Manufacturing Dresden (AMCD) with a festive ceremony on February 7, 2017. Scientists from various disciplines perform research on materials, additive manufacturing processes and innovative technologies, which build up components in a layer by layer process. This technology opens up new horizons for component design and combinations of functions. For example during fabrication, electrical conductors and sensors are already able to be additively manufactured into components. They provide information about stress conditions of a product during operation.

The 3D-printing technology, or additive manufacturing as it is often called, has long made the step out of scientific research laboratories into industrial...

Im Focus: Mimicking nature's cellular architectures via 3-D printing

Research offers new level of control over the structure of 3-D printed materials

Nature does amazing things with limited design materials. Grass, for example, can support its own weight, resist strong wind loads, and recover after being...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Booth and panel discussion – The Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings at the AAAS 2017 Annual Meeting

13.02.2017 | Event News

Complex Loading versus Hidden Reserves

10.02.2017 | Event News

International Conference on Crystal Growth in Freiburg

09.02.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

New pop-up strategy inspired by cuts, not folds

27.02.2017 | Materials Sciences

Sandia uses confined nanoparticles to improve hydrogen storage materials performance

27.02.2017 | Interdisciplinary Research

Decoding the genome's cryptic language

27.02.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>