Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Computer Science

First Advisor

Dr. Robert Schweller

Second Advisor

Dr. Bin Fu

Third Advisor

Dr. Tim Wylie


The development of nanotechnology has become one of the most significant endeavors of our time. A natural objective of this field is discovering how to engineer nanoscale structures. Limitations of current top-down techniques inspire investigation into bottom-up approaches to reach this objective. A fundamental precondition for a bottom-up approach is the ability to control the behavior of nanoscale particles. Many abstract representations have been developed to model systems of particles and to research methods for controlling their behavior. This thesis develops theories on two such approaches for building complex structures: the self-assembly of simple particles, and the use of simple robot swarms. The concepts for these two approaches are straightforward. Self-assembly is the process by which simple particles, following the rules of some behavior-governing system, naturally coalesce into a more complex form. The other method of bottom-up assembly involves controlling nanoscale particles through explicit directions and assembling them into a desired form. Regarding the self-assembly of nanoscale structures, we present two construction methods in a variant of a popular theoretical model known as the 2-Handed Tile Self-Assembly Model. The first technique achieves shape construction at only a constant scale factor, while the second result uses only a constant number of unique particle types. Regarding the use of robot swarms for construction, we first develop a novel technique for reconfiguring a swarm of globally-controlled robots into a desired shape even when the robots can only move maximally in a commanded direction. We then expand on this work by formally defining an entire hierarchy of shapes which can be built in this manner and we provide a technique for doing so.


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