We describe a prototype implementation of a virtual
environment for simulating diamondoid and fullerene
mechanosynthesis. The interactive system employs a reactive
hydrocarbon potential coupled to a three-degree-of-freedom
haptic (force-feedback) arm and a real-time graphic display.
The user can attach his hand to an atom or molecule and maneuver
it in three-dimensional space. The reactive potential calculates
the resultant forces and motions of all atoms, including changes
in bonding topology. The forces on the atoms being manipulated
are continuously fed back to the user through the haptic
interface, while the newly calculated positions of all atoms are
continuously updated on the graphics display.
This system allows users to (virtually) interrogate and
manipulate matter on an atomic or molecular scale. These
operations can be used to explore new strategies for
mechanosynthesis, to rehearse and debug complicated assembly
sequences for possible future execution by a nanomanipulator,
and to develop chemical intuition.