How do nanobots replicate themselves


The following important information is missing from this article or section:
The current state of science has not been updated since 2012, especially with regard to feasibility, prototypes and study results. Matchstick-sized robots are by definition too big to be called nanobots. Nanobots used in medicine usually work with biological mechanisms, for example based on viruses, bacteria or their components.
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Under Nanobots or Nanorobots (also Nanites) one understands - hypothetical - autonomous machines (robots) or molecular machines in the smallest format as one of the development directions of the nanotechnology.

Nanobots, which are able to manipulate individual atoms and molecules, are also called assemblers. An important idea related to these is the ability to self-replicate.


Possible applications

Possible areas of application and possibilities include:

  • Medicine: eradicating cancer, rebuilding bones, muscles and organs, operations
  • Production: Manufacture of products, only the right atoms have to be available → garbage as raw material
  • Computer networks and monitoring through "intelligent dust"
  • Military applications: Nanites could not only be used for surveillance and espionage, the manufacture of required products would also be possible. But also the use as a weapon could not be ruled out.
  • Dynamic Physical Rendering: Catoms, in principle a form-variable matter.
  • Space research: for example as Von Neumann probes, the nanobots could be launched with modified particle accelerators or Gaussian cannons in a vacuum from earth orbit and / or use the pressure of light as a drive


There are detailed analyzes of the dangerousness of such scenarios. In June 2004 published the Institute of Physics a contribution[1] by Eric Drexler, in which he pointed out that swarms of autonomous, self-replicating nanobots are neither necessary nor desirable for the realization of molecular manufacturing. Instead, he explains the reasons for the use of auto-productive manufacturing systems. A detailed design for such an alternative system comes from Chris Phoenix.[2] Dispensing with autonomous, self-replicating nanobots presupposes that everyone involved in the development of nanobots is responsible and benevolent. A paper published in the journal Nature Biotechnology describes the use of a “DNA nanorobot” on tumors in mice.[3] In fact, it is a form of Drug targeting.


Nanobots are also the subject of fiction:

  • In 1955, Philip K. described Dick in his short story Autofac (German: “Autofab” or “War of the Automata”) the development, undesirable by humans, from robots competing for raw materials to nanorobots.
  • The 1964 novel The Invincible by Stanisław Lem deals with a planet populated by swarms of such beings. The novel Fiasko in 1986 takes up the idea again from a different point of view.
  • The catchphrase des, coined by Eric Drexler in his book Engines of Creation Gray goo[4] (for example: "gray slime") has gained a certain popularity: This means myriads of amok running amok and self-propagating, aggressive nanobots that consume everything on the surface of the earth in a very short time.[5]
  • In the novel Trinity Blood by Sunao Yoshida, four people who were sent to Mars to oversee colonization are implanted with nanobots that give them unearthly powers when they activate the nanobots.
  • The Borg, a fictional race of cyborgs from the science fiction series Star Trek, use nanobots (there “nanoprobes”) to assimilate living organisms. These convert the organism in such a way that it transforms into a Borg, whereby the implants produced by the nanobots almost completely control the body and consciousness of the victims through a constant connection to the Borg collective.
  • In the Star Trek series Spaceship Enterprise - The Next Century, improved nanites that have learned to reproduce are released in the first episode of the third season (The Power of Nanites) during a failed experiment. In the course of the episode, the nanites take control of the spaceship and even learn to communicate with the people on board.
  • In the Stargate universe (Stargate: SG1, Stargate Atlantis, Stargate: The Ark of Truth) there is a whole people made up of nanites, the replicators or Asurans. In addition, they were once used there as a nanovirus, which causes hallucinations and brain aneurysms with death, as an aging accelerator and as a medical healing method.
  • In the remake of The Day on which the Earth stood still, GoRT consists only of nanites, which decompose any material in seconds and can thus reproduce.
  • In the 2009 film G.I. Joe - Cobra secret mission, nanorobots represent a dangerous weapon of mass destruction that is misused by a corrupt arms dealer.
  • In the pen & paper role-playing game Shadowrun, nanobots (here also nanites or “nanoware”) are used in medicine, production, for espionage purposes, as weapons and in the body in order to optimize body functions or, among other things, to create an ever-adjustable tattoo present.[6]
  • In the first person shooter Crysis, nanites, which are stored in the so-called “nanosuits”, are used to reinforce human abilities. So it is the hero of the game z. B. possible to jump much higher or to be insensitive to rifle bullets
  • Michael Crichton's novel Prey deals with runaway nanorobots
  • The novel Lord of All Things by Andreas Eschbach is about a scientist from Japan who wants to make all people rich through self-replicating robots. This should be made possible by having all of the work done by these robots
  • Neal Stephenson's novel Diamond Age details a nanotechnology future
  • Nanotechnology is used in the 2014 film Transcendence. The scientist Will dies in an attack. His mind and memories are uploaded to a data center and he begins to evolve as artificial intelligence. The technology is developing so far that nanorobots can enter drinking water through clouds and spread across the earth. So Will is present everywhere and can exert influence everywhere. With the help of biotechnology, Will also influences people through nanorobots and can control them through networking.
  • The plot of the television series Revolution is based on globally distributed nanobots which, depending on their programming, can prevent the use of electrical devices in any area of ​​the world or even all over the world.
  • Films Agent Cody Banks 1-2
  • titled Act X - The FBI's Scary Cases from 1999, episode 10 of season 6 S.R. 819 humans are infected with nanotechnology and thus made controllable. In Kevin J. Anderson's X-Files novel antibody, which appeared two years earlier, nanotechnology is taking on a deadly life of its own.
  • In Ursula Poznanski's book Thalamus, published in 2018, nanobots, which were used for healing purposes in the brain of patients, got out of control.

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. ↑ Contribution by Eric Drexler
  2. Design of a Primitive Nanofactory. Retrieved May 6, 2010.
  3. ↑ p. Li, Q. Jiang et al .: A DNA nanorobot functions as a cancer therapeutic in response to a molecular trigger in vivo. In: Nature Biotechnology. Volume 36, Number 3, March 2018, pp. 258-264, doi: 10.1038 / nbt.4071, PMID 29431737.
  4. gray goo in the English language Wikipedia
  5. ↑ Video about the effects of gray slime (Memento from March 9, 2009 in Internet Archive)
  6. ^ Post on Shadowhelix about Nanoware in Shadowrun