January 26, 2009
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Everyone knows how to assemble things: Just grasp the parts and put them together. Self-assembly, though, doesn’t work at all like this, and as a consequence, it presents major challenges. Despite its inherent difficulties and limitations, self-assembly is the leading means for implementing atomically precise nanotechnologies today, and I expect it will lead for years to come. Self-assembly is a powerful method, and powerful enough to provide a path to nanotechnologies that are yet more powerful. Improving methods for making complex structures by self-assembly is an enormously important area of research.