Entry Date:
June 21, 2011

Millibiology Project: Milli-Biology Programmable Matter

Principal Investigator Neil Gershenfeld

Co-investigators Erik Demaine , Joseph Jacobson , Daniela Rus

Project Website http://milli.cba.mit.edu/

The goal of the Millibiology Project is to re-implement the functionality of molecular biology in engineered materials, in order to enlarge the material set, expand operational scales, ease design, and improve reusability and reconfigurability. Viewed from the bottom up, we want to build programs out of, rather then into components.

Based in the MIT Center for Bits and Atoms (CBA), the Millibiology Project brings together researchers across MIT, Harvard University, Otherlab, and a network of institutional partners.

The Phase I milestone is:

(1) Build a mathematical model that, given a set of mesoscale particles with manufacturable properties, theoretically confirms at least one viable procedure for constructing and disassembling macroscopic 3D solid objects under external command. The objects must have functional properties that are useful in the real world (e.g., a wrench).

The Phase II milestones are:

(1) Starting with a single set of mesoscale particles, experimentally demonstrate externally-directed assembly of four distinct macroscopic 3D solids (cube, cylinder, sphere, triangular prism), each ~100 cm3 in volume;

(2) Experimentally demonstrate interlocking/adhesion of mesoscale particles to create bulk matter with an elastic modulus typical of plastics (0.2 to 4 GPa), followed by unlocking to recover the original particles.