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Next hot job: Molecular engineer for nanotechnology

One of the cover stories in Machine Design is by Mark Sims, CEO of Nanorex, on nanotech molecular modeling in CAD (computer-aided design). For those of us who have already been tracking the field, the most exciting part is at the end:

The software does not currently output data that could drive such machines as, for instance, conventional CAD/CAM software outputs data to drive CNCs [computer numerical control machines]. However, we are developing a feature of the program that will do this for specific types of structures. For example, we are working with a research group at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, Calif, that has come up with a technique for synthesizing arbitrary 2D shapes out of DNA. A Fall release of NanoEngineer-1 will let engineers design and model custom DNA shapes that can actually be synthesized. NanoEngineer-1 will create a special file format that users can send to a company to order the individual strands of DNA needed to create the final structure. Once received, the materials are then combined for a reaction that creates a custom DNA structure.

One more step on the long pathway to building molecular machines in your garage, with all that implies. —Christine

3 Responses to “Next hot job: Molecular engineer for nanotechnology”

  1. rob-o Says:

    why the **** won’t anyone just answer a simple question of what the **** is nanotechnology it’s frusterating the **** out of me

  2. Christine Peterson Says:

    Well, rob-o, many of us have been frustrated by the changing definition. Here are two examples:

    Here’s the October 2006 US Government definition:
    “Nanotechnology is the understanding and control of matter at dimensions of roughly 1 to 100 nanometers, where unique phenomena enable novel applications.”
    http://www.nano.gov/html/facts/whatIsNano.html

    Here’s the Unbounding the Future definition (1991):
    “Molecular nanotechnology: Thorough, inexpensive control of the structure of matter based on molecule-by-molecule control of products and byproducts…”
    http://www.foresight.org/UTF/Unbound_LBW/Glossary.html

    Sometimes you see micron-scale technologies or nuclear-scale technologies grouped under the name nanotechnology, but this is really going too far by any reasonable definition.

    Hope this helps. —Christine

  3. Mike Treder Says:

    CRN’s preferred definition for nanotechnology is: the engineering of functional systems at the molecular scale. This covers both current work and concepts that are more advanced. Read more here.

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