Just Do It It’s the 20th anniversary of the first Foresight Conference this year. Over the intervening two decades, one of the most common questions of Foresight members and supporters has been, “What can I do to help with the development of nanotech?” Foresight has had many useful programs, and encouraged development in many ways [...]
Archive for the 'Roadmaps' Category
Scaling KSRM Design Considerations There hasn’t been a lot of work on self-replicating workcells. There’s been plenty on robotic workcells that don’t replicate, but almost all of this falls into the “more complex than what it makes” category. The basic idea goes back to Waldo: imitate a machine shop and the person servicing the machines [...]
Where to Start? In the last post we suggested that finding the appropriate starting point was one of the critical items to address in forming a Feynman Path roadmap, and that is true. A thorough survey of available techniques should be made, and recent advances in machining, nanomanipulation, and so forth taken advantage of. However, [...]
Plan of Attack The difficult we do immediately. The impossible takes a little longer. (Seabees motto) There are at least two major parts to a project to implement the Feynman Path. The first is essentially to work out a roadmap for the second. In particular, Design a scalable, remotely-operated manufacturing and manipulation workstation capable of [...]
Open Questions Taking Feynman’s Path to nanotech, or even studying it seriously, would require finding answers to a number of open questions. These questions, however, are quite important and knowing the answers will be invaluable in understanding the envelope of possibilities for future manufacturing technology. Is it in fact possible to build a compact self-replicating [...]
Is it Worth Starting Now? Surely, you will say, it would have been wonderful if back in 1959 people had taken Feynman seriously and really tried the Feynman path: we’d have the full-fledged paraphernalia of real, live molecular machinery now, with everything ranging from nanofactories to cell-repair machines. After all, it’s been 50 years. The [...]
MEMS Another reason the Feynman Path may not have been tried is the perception that a machine-based approach has been tried in the form of MEMS, and that standard machine designs do not work at this scale and below due to stiction. MEMS are in fact crippled by this phenomenon, which is a essentially an [...]
Self-replicating Machines So why hasn’t the Feynman Path been attempted, or at least studied and analyzed? One possible reason is that there still seems to be a “giggle factor” associated with the notion of a compact, macroscale, self-replicating machine using standard fabrication and assembly techniques. Although studied in the abstract since von Neumann, and in [...]
Historical Note It’s appropriate on this July 7 to make at least a reference to the history of ideas that lies behind the Feynman Path. That’s because July 7 is the (102nd) birthday of Robert A Heinlein, the famous SF writer, futurist, and inventor. His invention of interest is the “Waldo F. Jones Synchronous Reduplicating [...]
The Problem In 1997, Philip Collins, then a graduate student at Berkeley, won the Foresight Institute’s Distinguished Student Award for his experimental verification that a defect location in a carbon nanotube could form a near-perfect rectifier, as well as various other heterojunction device behaviors, as had been theoretically predicted just the year before. “Such junctions [...]
Eric Drexler has posted the slides from his keynote talk at the Berkeley Nanotech Forum. These are a fairly painless way to get an overview of the Productive Nanosystems Roadmap.
As I pointed out in Nanotechnology Without Engines, nanotechnology’s promise of being a revolutionary rather than evolutionary technology was based on two key ideas: Nanotechnology, the revolutionary technology, was always about the power of self-replication and never only about the very small. This was clearly the case both in Drexler’s conception and in Feynman’s: … [...]
A response to my “Parricide” essay has been seen on IEEE’s Tech Talk blog. Dexter Johnson gives a fair summary of the positions taken to date, and says As the argument seems to go, Drexler popularized the term nanotechnology in his book Engines of Creation, and so when the general public heard that thousands of [...]
One of the main reasons that we are confident in the overall predictions of molecular manufacturing is that there are many pathways to it from current technology and using currently understood science. It is thus something of a milestone that we have arrived at a fork in the road about which there is room for [...]
Re-engineering a simple nanotech device to make it more functional, Chinese scientists have developed an improved DNA tweezers that is able to capture, hold, and release a target molecule in a controlled manner.
Robert A. Freitas Jr. brings to our attention a major step on the road to advanced nanotech, published a couple weeks ago in Science (abstract). He writes: This paper reports purely mechanical-based covalent bond-making and bond-breaking (true mechanosynthesis) involving atom by atom substitution of silicon (Si) atoms for tin (Sn) atoms in an Sn monolayer [...]
On 5 June 2008, Robert Freitas and Ralph Merkle of the Institute for Molecular Manufacturing (IMM) submitted to IEEE Spectrum the following response to the article “Rupturing the Nanotech Rapture” by Richard A.L. Jones (IEEE Spectrum, June 2008 issue). Their brief letter is reproduced below because Spectrum has chosen to publish only one of the [...]
DARPA and a Texas fund have awarded $9.7M to investigate one nanotech path toward atomically precise manufacturing.
On the Editor’s Page at Medical DeviceLinkCom, Shana Leonard writes about the crucial need for design and modeling techniques to guide nanosystems development toward fabrication, and cites the Technology Roadmap for Productive Nanosystems. From “A Different Kind of Intelligent Design” Drawing from numerous workshops held from 2005 to 2007, Battelle (Columbus, OH) and the Foresight [...]
Advanced nanotech might benefit if proteins could be arrayed on a surface so that they could be quickly and easily scanned for function or interactions with other molecules.