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Self Assembly & Nano-Structures

Self-assembly is the process in which simple parts self-organize into larger structures. Self-assembly is essential for nano-manufacturing because physical laws at nanoscopic level make central control impractical. The Goldberg laboratory at Tufts University has been developing a system to engineer and use the distal half of the T4 bacteriophage tail fibers as building blocks to create rigid open nanoscale structures. These nano-rods can be cross-linked to create a crossbar structure. The crossbar can be abstracted as a Wang tile. Thus the process of creating structures using these crossbars can be modeled as the self-assembly of Wang tiles. The goal of the project is to devise algorithms for this Tile model of self-assembly such that given a desired nano-structure; the assembly process only results in that structure and no other.

Structure of the T4 virion
Image: Scientific American, 1965
T4 tail fibers
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