Browse Definitions:


Self-assembly is a branch of nanotechnology in which objects, devices, and systems form structures without external prodding. Nanotechnology is a field of engineering that deals with design, manufacture, and control on a scale of a few nanometer s (nm) or less, where 1 nm = 10 -9 meters.

In self-assembly, the individual components contain in themselves enough information to build a template for a structure composed of multiple units. An example is the construction of a monolayer, in which a single layer of closely-packed molecules sticks to a surface in an orderly and closely-packed fashion. Self-assembly should not be confused with positional assembly , a technique that has been suggested as a means to build objects, devices, and systems on a molecular scale using automated processes in which the components that carry out the construction process would follow programmed paths.

Nanotechnology has potential benefits for many fields, including water purification, sanitation, agriculture, alternative energy (particularly photovoltaics), home and business construction, computer manufacturing, communications, and medicine.

Also see dendrimer , exponential assembly , positional assembly , and self-replication .

This was last updated in September 2005

Continue Reading About self-assembly

Start the conversation

Send me notifications when other members comment.

By submitting you agree to receive email from TechTarget and its partners. If you reside outside of the United States, you consent to having your personal data transferred to and processed in the United States. Privacy

Please create a username to comment.


File Extensions and File Formats


  • risk map (risk heat map)

    A risk map, also known as a risk heat map, is a data visualization tool for communicating specific risks an organization faces. A...

  • internal audit (IA)

    An internal audit (IA) is an organizational initiative to monitor and analyze its own business operations in order to determine ...

  • pure risk (absolute risk)

    Pure risk, also called absolute risk, is a category of threat that is beyond human control and has only one possible outcome if ...


  • cloud ecosystem

    A cloud ecosystem is a complex system of interdependent components that all work together to enable cloud services.

  • cloud services

    Cloud services is an umbrella term that may refer to a variety of resources provided over the internet, or to professional ...

  • uncloud (de-cloud)

    The term uncloud describes the action or process of removing applications and data from a cloud computing platform.


  • federated identity management (FIM)

    Federated identity management (FIM) is an arrangement that can be made among multiple enterprises to let subscribers use the same...

  • cross-site scripting (XSS)

    Cross-site scripting (XSS) is a type of injection security attack in which an attacker injects data, such as a malicious script, ...

  • firewall

    In computing, a firewall is software or firmware that enforces a set of rules about what data packets will be allowed to enter or...




  • bad block

    A bad block is an area of storage media that is no longer reliable for storing and retrieving data because it has been physically...

  • all-flash array (AFA)

    An all-flash array (AFA), also known as a solid-state storage disk system, is an external storage array that uses only flash ...

  • volume manager

    A volume manager is software within an operating system (OS) that controls capacity allocation for storage arrays.


  • hybrid hard disk drive (HDD)

    A hybrid hard disk drive is an electromechanical spinning hard disk that contains some amount of NAND Flash memory.