Whither Nanotechnology

11/7/98


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Table of Contents

Whither Nanotechnology

Seventh Elba-Foresight Conference on Nanotechnology April, 1999 Rome, Italy www.foresight.org/Conferences

The goal: nanotechnology (a.k.a. molecular manufacturing)

Where we are today

Possible arrangements of atoms

The goal of molecular nanotechnology: a healthy bite.

We must develop fundamentally new capabilities

Should we actively pursue the development of molecular nanotechnology?

The good news

The principles of physics, as far as I can see, do not speak against the possibility of maneuvering things atom by atom. It is not an attempt to violate any laws; it is something, in principle, that can be done; but in practice, it has not been done because we are too big. Richard Feynman, 1959

Most interesting structures that are at least substantial local minima on a potential energy surface can probably be made one way or another. Richard Smalley Nobel Laureate in Chemistry, 1996

The bad news

What needs to be done

Overview of the development of molecular nanotechnology

Issues

A proposal for a programmable molecular positional device

Issues with positional control

Proposal for a self replicating device: an assembler

Von Neumann architecture for a self replicating system

Drexler’s architecture for an assembler

Complexity of self replicating systems (bits)

A C program that prints out an exact copy of itself

English translation:

Idiosyncratic vs systematic

Is nanotechnology only about small things?

How long?

It’s possible to think that “nanotechnology”

Can we abandon these principles without compromising the goal?

Author: Ralph C. Merkle

Email: merkle@parc.xerox.com

Home Page: www.merkle.com

Power Point 97: http://www.zyvex.com/nanotech/talks/IBC981207/talk.ppt