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Intermediate and long term objectives
in nanotechnology

Ralph C. Merkle*

Xerox Palo Alto Research Center

This is an abstract for a talk to be given at the
Fifth Foresight Conference on Molecular Nanotechnology.
This talk is based upon an article available at:
An HTML version of the slides for this talk is available at:


The basic long term objective of molecular nanotechnology is now widely accepted: we should be able to develop a manufacturing technology able to inexpensively fabricate most products which can be specified with molecular precision and which are consistent with physical law. As the direct development of such a capability using our present technology appears challenging, and as it seems likely that any developmental pathway will require substantial resources, it is essential that the nanotechnology community as a whole develop a greater consensus about both the nature and value of the long term objective, and the kind of intermediate objectives that should be pursued to achieve that long term objective.

*Corresponding Address:
Ralph C. Merkle, Xerox PARC, 3333 Coyote Hill Road, Palo Alto, CA 94304, Phone: 650-812-4422, Fax: 650-812-4471, E-mail:

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