Since the emergence of nanotechnology, atoms could be manipulated on an individual basis. However this made it impractical at best to create usable, reasonably sized structures as atom-by-atom manipulation is very time consuming. A machine was proposed that would be able to combine millions of atoms at once into complex structures. This device, referred to as a Universal Constructor, would significantly speed up the process of manipulating atoms and molecules; making ‘bottom-up’ manufacturing a reality. In the book Universal Constructor: Theory, Principles and Practice, possible uses for a UC are discussed. According to its author Wayne Lin, the most obvious applications would be the manipulation of genetics to cure various diseases and defects, and to expand organism’s abilities. When this book was published, it was not practical to construct a functioning UC so these ideas were simply hypothetical uses of the machine.
Majestic 12 scientists at Area 51 were the first to make this proposal a reality. A team of scientists led by Gary Savage created multiple functioning UCs for MJ12. The instructions on how to build a UC are one of Majestic 12's most closely guarded secrets. MJ12 do not want its enemies like Tracer Tong or the Illuminati to build a UC for themselves. The organization uses the UCs under its control to develop various technologies; some of which were proposed in Universal Constructor: Theory, Principles and Practice. These molecular assemblers have the ability to create both the cure for diseases, and the diseases themselves. They can also produce nano-augmentations and transgenic lifeforms such as greasels, grays and karkians. Many of these technologies, including others such as Non-Eutactic Blades, are composed of nanites. Nanites are incredibly powerful microscopic robots whose versatility allows them to be used for various different applications. Only a UC is capable of creating complex machines on such a small scale.
VersaLife, Hong KongEdit
In 2052, the largest known Universal Constructor is located in the Level 2 labs underneath the Hong Kong VersaLife facility. It is the only commercially used UC. VersaLife utilizes the UC to create augmentation canisters and their corresponding upgrade canisters. Unbeknownst to some of its own staff members, VersaLife uses its Universal Constructor to create the Gray Death nano-virus as well as its temporary vaccine, Ambrosia. Despite the fact that VersaLife attempts to keep its research secret, the existence of the UC is known by practically every engineer on the planet.The UC itself is housed in a large circular chamber. There is a central blue beam that focuses on the room above the chamber. Augmentation canisters and upgrade canisters appear to be produced in this room. The bottom section of the chamber is filled with toxic effluent, apparently a byproduct of the UC. The VersaLife UC is fitted with a safety mechanism that initiates a cascading shutdown if activated. A particular code is required to activate the shutdown and as the UC is destroyed in the process, the usage of this code is recommended only for emergencies. This mechanism was introduced because an error was found in the control system that could result in uncontrolled replication. JC Denton initiates this safety mechanism and the UC subsequently self-destructs, damaging a large part of the Nanotech Containment facility in the process.
Vandenberg Air Force BaseEdit
When X-51 left Area 51, they bring multiple reaction modules from the UCs with them. They relocate to Vandenberg Air Force Base and begin the construction of their own UC to counter Majestic 12. Gary Savage and his associates plan to use their UC to create a cure for the Gray Death. However, X-51 require a containment unit for their UC to make it operational. They know that they can find the component in the Pasadena Ocean Lab, an MJ12 facility which also houses a UC. Due to an attack on the facility, the Ocean Lab UC is no longer functional. A schematic for the containment unit can be obtained from a computer in the Ocean Lab regardless. Once X-51 has the instructions to create the unit, they promptly begin using their UC to create a cure for the deadly Gray Death.
With the partial destruction of Area 51's UC's by X-51, Bob Page is left with three non-functioning UCs. They can only be made work if the required components are obtained. When he finally gets the relevant schematics, Page puts the UCs back into working order and uses them as a security measure. While he attempts to merge with the Helios AI, he uses three separate UCs to create various transgenics and Arcbots.
Universal Constructors appear to be extremely complicated machines judging by the amount of work it takes to create one. The exact structure and functionality of the machine is not known but various components of UCs are mentioned. The UCs' reaction modules seem to be a critical aspect of the machine as Bob Page goes to great lengths to persuade Gary Savage to return the ones he stole.
Another vital component of every Universal Constructor is its containment unit. The schematic for this component, titled “molecular assembly”, implies it is where the raw materials are fed into and modified. There are multiple devices within the containment unit that sort and separate out the “molecular feedstock”. These include the Ioffe trap, the electrically charged solenoids, and the sorting rotor cascade.
- A VersaLife employee in the Lucky Money states that his "game-programmer friend in Texas" offered him one million credits in exchange for an hour on VersaLife's UC. Apparently his game-programmer friend jokingly claimed that they wanted to make the Game of Life using buckyballs.
- Universal Constructor's are similar to the nanoformers that appear in Deus Ex: Invisible War. Nanoformers are essentially a smaller, mobile version of UCs that are capable of performing the same operations, albeit more efficiently.
- The power required to run a UC, or at least its containment unit, appears to be very large. According to the schematic of the containment unit, it needs 10 kilovolts of voltage and 28 kiloamperes of current to run. This is a power of 280 megawatts, comparable to the power an airliner consumes in flight. These specs imply a very high current electron accelerator.
- As they are still an experimental technology, there is no "standard" appearance for the Constructors. The VersaLife model is significantly different in structure and appearance compared to the Vandenberg and Area 51 models.