from the positively-breathless dept.
A special edition of Business Week Magazine includes a number of items on nanotechnology, including an enthusiastic feature article ("The Tech Outlook: Nano Technology: No, its not all hype: these supertiny gizmos will transform our way of life", by Otis Port with Roger O. Crockett, 25 March 2002). The article notes the ongoing land-rush mentality of venture capitalists and large tech-oriented corporations into micro- and nano-scale technology R&D, as they are "pumping significant sums into nanotech research, as are governments around the world. A new study from CMP Cientifica [the Nanotechnology Opportunity Report], a market researcher in Madrid, says last year's worldwide government figure topped $1.2 billion (page 184). This year, the private and public sectors will probably spend $2 billion apiece on nano. . . . All told, venture capitalists and corporate funds will probably plow $1 billion into nano investments this year, twice what they invested in 2000, says S. Joshua Wolfe, a partner at New York's Lux Capital Group."
The article surveys a limited range of recent research, mostly into carbon nanotubes and semiconductor nanowires, and notes the formation of the NanoBusiness Alliance last year, before concluding:
The ultimate dream of nano engineers is an "assembler," which was first described in the writings of nanotech pioneer K. Eric Drexler, head of Foresight Institute in Palo Alto, Calif. It's a teensy robot that could be programmed to assemble atoms into gears and other components of nanomachines. That vision is still science fiction, says Raymond A. Kurzweil, author and president of Kurzweil Technologies Inc. But if assemblers can be developed, "they'll solve humanity's material needs," he adds. From molecules of dust and dirt, they would harvest the atoms needed to assemble computers, appliances, and other goods.