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Project MICREAgents: Self-assembling smart microscopic reagents to pioneer pourable electronics
Date:8/29/2012

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. 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 m 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 chemica
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Contact: Prof. Dr. John S. McCaskill
john.mccaskill@rub.de
49-234-322-7702
Ruhr-University Bochum
Source:Eurekalert

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