Jun 9, 2009
Posted by Tihamer "Tee" Toth-Fejel in category: nanotechnology
People have been worried about nanotechnology for quite some time now; nano-asbestos, advanced nano-enabled weapons, and self-replicating “gray goo” nanobots that accidentally go out of control. But what if everything goes right? What if nanotubes and nanoparticles are functionalized to stay out of the ecosystem? What if there are no major wars? What if nanoreplicators are never built, or if they are, they use modern error correction software to never mutate? What happens if nanotechnology fulfills humanity’s desires perfectly?
In the next decade or so, a new type of desktop appliance will be developed—a nanofactory that consists of very many productive nanosystems—atomically precise nanoscale machines that work together to build bulk amounts of atomically precise products.
The Foresight Technology Roadmap for Productive Nanosystems has identified a number of different approaches for building these atomically precise systems of machines that can produce other nanosystems http://www.foresight.org/roadmaps/. These approaches include Paul Rothemund’s DNA Origami, Christopher Schafmeister’s Bis-proteins, Joe Lynden’s Patterned Atomic Layer Epitaxy, and Robert Freitas and Ralph Merkle’s Diamondoid Mechanosynthesis http://www.rfreitas.com/Nano/JNNDimerTool.pdf, http://e-drexler.com/d/05/00/DC10C-mechanosynthesis.pdf, and http://www.molecularassembler.com/Papers/JCTNPengFeb06.pdf. Each of these approaches has the potential of building the numerous nanoscale electronic, mechanical, and structural components that comprise productive nanosystems.
The ultimate result will be a nanofactory that can build virtually anything—limited only by the laws of physics, the properties of the input feedstock, and the software that controls the device.