I caught this late last night and wanted to mention it. New Scientist brings word (Link) that genetically modified viruses may someday be used to assemble themselves into electronic components. From the article:
Researchers in the US have created viruses that automatically coat themselves in metals and line up head to tail to form an efficient battery anode – the negatively charged component that channels electrons to generate current. These nanowires could be used to make revolutionary new forms of lithium-ion batteries, the researchers say.
I was recently talking to someone about rapid-manufacturing and how there were some limitations – specifically with regard to electronic components. That may no longer be an issue.
Imagine now that instead of a nanofactory (which could come later), you have a rapid-manufacturing device – like a 3D printer or a metal fabber – and imagine you provide enough gold or cobalt in the right places to attract those little virus machines. In stages you allow a different set of genetically-modified critters to add layer upon layer of material (just like a regular rapid-prototyping device), thus creating components inside the fabbed part.