[extropy-chat] Moving Closer to a Manufacturing Revolution

MIKE TREDER iph1954 at msn.com
Tue May 17 23:37:51 UTC 2005


Center for Responsible Nanotechnology
Mike Treder, Executive Director (1-718-398-7272) mtreder at CRNano.org
Chris Phoenix, Director of Research (1-305-387-5583) cphoenix at CRNano.org

Nanotech: Moving Closer to a Manufacturing Revolution

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 

The 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."

Theories 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 

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 

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

Other resources:
"Design of a Primitive Nanofactory" (Phoenix) –
"Productive Nanosystems: From Molecules to Superproducts" (Drexler/Burch)
"What is Nanotechnology?" - http://www.crnano.org/whatis.htm
"What is Molecular Manufacturing?" - 
"Thirty Essential Nanotechnology Studies" - 

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) 

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