Nanotechnology's long-expected transformation of manufacturing
has just moved closer to reality. A new analysis of existing technological
capabilities, including proposed steps from today's nanotech to advanced
molecular machine systems, was released today by the Center for Responsible
study, "Molecular Manufacturing: What, Why and How," performed
by Chris Phoenix, CRN Director of Research, is available online at Wise-Nano.org.
It shows how existing technologies can be coordinated toward a reachable
goal of general-purpose molecular manufacturing.
"Molecular manufacturing offers a fundamentally new approach to build
things 'from the bottom up'," said Phoenix. "The idea is to use
nanoscale machines to create structures with atomic precision. Ultimately,
that can result in the ability to make complex products, both small and large,
with unprecedented performance and value."
and concepts for molecular manufacturing, first proposed in the 1980's
by nanotechnology pioneer K. Eric Drexler, have improved steadily since
then. But recent progress is occurring at a faster pace. Less than two
years ago, Phoenix published the first detailed architecture for a "nanofactory," a
remarkably powerful general-purpose manufacturing appliance that could sit
on a desktop. Since then, Drexler, working with John Burch, has developed
an improved design that should be significantly more efficient.
Recent developments in DNA synthesis and polymer construction, plus advances
in miniaturization and precision of scanning probe microscopes, are rapidly
adding pieces to the nanotech jigsaw puzzle.
This new study puts the pieces in place. Presenting research performed by
CRN under a grant from NASA's Institute for Advanced Concepts, while also
updating and combining existing work in related fields, it describes a newly
simplified way to develop molecular manufacturing starting with today's technology.
Phoenix describes two approaches for building the initial basic tools with
current technology. Other sections outline incremental improvement from those
early tools toward the first integrated nanofactory, and analyze a scalable
architecture for a more advanced nanofactory. Product performance and likely
applications are discussed, as well as incentives for corporate or government
investment in the technology. Finally, considerations and recommendations
for a targeted development program are presented.
"We've done an end-to-end analysis of molecular manufacturing's goals
as well as some ways to get there," said Phoenix. "More important,
this study shows that development of the technology will be both highly desirable
and relatively straightforward. It's probably not as far away as many people
think, which means it's time to begin discussing the ramifications, both
positive and negative."
"Molecular Manufacturing: What, Why and How" does not directly
address the societal, environmental, medical, economic, military, security,
and geopolitical implications of the technology's introduction. However,
those topics are explored in other papers and articles on CRN’s website.
This release is posted online at http://CRNano.org/PR-Analysis.htm The full
study is available at http://wise-nano.org/w/Doing_MM
"Design of a Primitive Nanofactory" (Phoenix) – http://www.jetpress.org/volume13/Nanofactory.htm
"Productive Nanosystems: From Molecules to Superproducts" (Drexler/Burch)
"What is Nanotechnology?" - http://www.crnano.org/whatis.htm "What
is Molecular Manufacturing?" - http://www.crnano.org/essays05.htm#2,Feb
"Thirty Essential Nanotechnology Studies" - http://www.crnano.org/studies.htm
The Center for Responsible Nanotechnology (http://CRNano.org) is headquartered
in New York. CRN is a non-profit think tank concerned with the major societal
and environmental implications of advanced nanotechnology. We promote public
awareness and education, and the crafting and implementation of effective
policy to maximize benefits and reduce dangers. CRN is an affiliate of World
Care, an international, non-profit, 501(c)(3) organization.