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U.K. nanotechnology project causing U.S. nanoenvy

In addition to the experimental project described here yesterday, there are now two more posted on the U.K. Software Control of Matter Ideas Factory blog which are very likely to be funded — the first experimental, the second theoretical:

Directed Reconfigurable Nanomachines

We propose a scheme to revolutionise the synthesis of nanodevices, nanomachines, and, ultimately, functional materials via the positional assembly of molecules and nanoscale building blocks. Computer-directed actuators will be used to drive (with sub-nanometre to sub-Angstrom precision) the elements of a nanosystem along pre-defined and entirely deterministic trajectories, thereby achieving structures not accessible by mimicing natural assembly strategies alone. Linkages and bonding between the building blocks will also be initiated, modulated, and – in some cases – terminated by direct computer control…

The Matter Compiler

An ambition to assemble molecules and materials under atomically precise control demands a big leap forward in control engineering and computer science. Is it possible to anticipate the properties and needs of a ‘nano-assembler’? If so, there is a need for a high level instruction language and a computer compiler that translates commands in this language into instructions for the ‘nano-assembler’. This development will require a breakthrough in understanding of chemical synthesis that must embrace the radically new ‘pick and place’ assembly method which is now possible in scanning probe microscopy (SPM). The Matter Compiler project is thus both an exercise in foresight, to anticipate developments in this area, and a prototype implementation for the engineering control and computer science aspects of directed molecular assembly…

So the votes are in: the entire U.S. community interested in manufacturing with atomic precision has submitted requests to emigrate to the U.K.

Kidding! But not by much. We are suffering a serious case of nanoenvy over here. —Christine

4 Responses to “U.K. nanotechnology project causing U.S. nanoenvy”

  1. Eric Tulloch Says:

    So why isn’t there a similar project being conducted here in the U.S.? Or better yet, a collaborative effort with the U.K.? As I understand it, the project is funded, at least in part, by the British government, but does that mean a collaboration on the part of the U.S. (or anyone else who wants to get involved) cannot be privately funded?

    I suppose it just makes sense to me that when someone stumbles upon something as revolutionary as this appears to be, he should drop/put aside less important items to focus on that brilliant thing. Granted, I’m sure companies, corporations, etc. would be a little miffed at having their projects dropped, unless they too were educated on the potential of such a concept.

  2. Martin G. Smith Says:

    ‘We are suffering a serious case of nanoenvy over here.’ – I will not remind you of the dangers of lapsing into the famous Seven Deadly. . . The past week in the UK has created a feeling of momentum spreading out over the Highway of Light. What happened there is unique to the British context of how things should be done.
    To quote in part from the sponsor’s website [the EPSRC – Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council] ‘We operate to meet the needs of industry and society by working in partnership with universities to invest in people and scientific discovery and innovation. The knowledge and expertise gained maintains a technological leading edge, builds a strong economy and improves people’s quality of life.’ While they do not indicate having a ‘Royal Patron’, I suspect they do.
    The question of whether the Sandpit can be replicated in North America bring the question of whether there is the impetus within the scientific and cultural communities to work together towards a common goal. It was the multidisciplinary makeup of the Sandpit which almost assuredly guaranteed its success, and this, I suggest is one of the most important lessons to be learned from it.
    For myself and by proxy, my agenda. The importance of this event was the focus it brought within my crew. Starting with a group of young people, some of whom just looking for an excuse to turn ‘Victim’ an jump back into the destructive comfort of the Chrystal Meth abyss, this event galvanized their thinking and while much progress was made in the UK, in a different context, as much progress was made.

    I leave all with a comment I left on the Ideas Factory Blog under the Matter Compiler – ‘Bouncing across the floor Jaz yells ‘What is RETROSYNTHESIS’. A unanimous ‘Look it up!’, was the response. A short while later she was running a tutorial she had found on the University of East Anglia site.’
    ‘I have said this before and suggest it bears repeating, this process has created a momentum of thinking with one group many will have not thought of. The potential for the work that is to come is incredible and the benefits, if only to advance the knowledge base. As for the possibilities which could/will come for this project, we anxiously await the Beta.’

    I think it was Buzz Lightyear who said – ‘To Infinity and beyond’, we care not who the pilot is. we’re along for the ride.

  3. Nanodot: Nanotechnology News and Discussion » Blog Archive » UK takes lead in the nanotechnology that matters Says:

    [...] Perhaps our headline is a bit overstated…or perhaps not. Jim Lewis brings to our attention an article in Chemistry World on the Royal Society of Chemistry website announcing that, as anticipated, the UK has officially funded a set of projects aimed at developing a nanofactory able to build with atomic precision: UK scientists have been granted £2.5 million to invent a nanomachine that can build materials molecule by molecule…this autumn, researchers across the UK are starting work towards it, following the funding of three research projects by the Engineering and physical sciences research council. [...]

  4. Shawn Simpson Says:

    Our government had been a world leader in this research for years. It started out as DOD research marked dollars and NASA marked R&D dollars. If you would have caught an episode of Tacital to Pratical on the Discovery channel in 2003. The DOD has built a 17acre nanotechnology research center in Virginia that has produced a cotton shirt embedded with nano eletronics that can sense the enviornment and in less then a second reprogram the molacules of that cotton shirt into a shirt stronger then kevlar. As well as monitor a soilders physical systems and detect chemical and biological agents in the vicinity. This nano shirt was already in use by our special forces in 2003.

    The US has invested over a billion dollars on reacord over the past decade in R&D nanotechnology. What we have invested under the blanket of other R&D projects is likely about the same.

    The real reason we are at war with rouge nations and terriost groups is not about current WMD available to them. It is about the frature of nanotechnology and it’s weaponization and preventing these nation-states and radical groups from obtaining these technologies.

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