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In my story I have a group of androids that are able to grow in size from training and repair from damage because of the nanobots that are inside of them. Their skeleton will be made of a carbon nanotubes for the strength and weight advantage and their wiring can be nanowires for the improved conductivity.

When thinking about how their internal nanobots will get materials and because I want them to seem as human as possible I thought they could eat normal food, with their nanobots stripping carbon atoms to use in creating more bots and repairing the body, which lead me to wondering if nanomaterials can be used for every part of their body? from internal mechanisms to soft skin? otherwise food might not be a good source for getting all necessary elements. The robots will secretly charge electricity through a port so whatever is digested will only be to provide materials to the repair bots.

So my question is, in the future when nanomaterials are readily available, what other elements and materials would still be needed to make life-like androids?

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  • $\begingroup$ @Anewnormal. Thats the main one I was wondering if it could be replaced, After L Dutch's answer I was thinking hmm how do you hide eating chunks of metal from your human friends lol but as u said supplement with some tablets. $\endgroup$ – user69935 Apr 26 '20 at 18:49
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Android meat.

Like ourselves, your android eats to obtain materials for its body, and oxidizable fuels to power its metabolism. For the body, in addition to carbon, silicon and other materials readily available in the environment, your synthetic androids contain some materials that are very difficult to obtain - including rare earths like yttrium and certain bioinorganic molecules impossible to synthesize from scratch within the environmental constraints of the android's body. The android must purchase supplements to provide these needed materials. They can be expensive.

Another way to get needed materials is from a different android that has them. This means consuming parts of the other android that contain the needed substances. The market value of various organs would depend on the substances they contain. Androids can share, and defunct androids are of course salvaged for this purpose. Androids and other biomechanical entities might be hunted and consumed for this reason.

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    $\begingroup$ Oh a dark twist and here I was planning their happy lives lol. $\endgroup$ – user69935 Apr 26 '20 at 21:31
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    $\begingroup$ Today there are Organ Trafficking rings, so why would Androids be exempt from this fine perk of Humanity? $\endgroup$ – Gustavo Apr 27 '20 at 12:31
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Carbon nanotube have excellent tensile properties, but no astounding compression characteristics. They would be extraordinary tendons but very poor bones, at least in the way bones work in our skeleton. For a skeleton designed to operate in tension and not in compression it's a different story, but that's not what you have specified.

That said, if you have an internal processing unit which can assemble atoms the way you want, as long as you intake them you are good to go. This answer of mine explain the details.

Atoms have no memory of where they were before, so the food that you will make in this way, if is has the same composition, will be indistinguishable from the "true" one.

Replace "food" with the material you want, and you are done.

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  • $\begingroup$ I didn't know carbon nanomaterials weren't great for compression strength, good to know. $\endgroup$ – user69935 Apr 26 '20 at 21:34
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    $\begingroup$ @RandySavage The form of carbon best known for compressive strength is diamond (~300 times that of bone) - however, it is also at high risk of cracking or shattering when struck with force. Possibly use it in an aggregate, or use something like Silicon Carbide instead? $\endgroup$ – Chronocidal Apr 27 '20 at 8:22
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    $\begingroup$ @Chronocidal Thin diamond films are actually flexible; the construction principle of mother-of-pearl (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nacre) and similar materials is to interleave materials with different properties, here: hard/brittle (diamond) with soft/tensile-strong (nanotubes). Note that optical effects (iridescence and similar) are optional. $\endgroup$ – toolforger Apr 27 '20 at 11:43

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