Eric Drexler's website, e-drexler.com, has been updated with two new papers written by Drexler and published in scientific journals:
Productive nanosystems: the physics of molecular fabrication [PDF, 0.6 MB]
(in Physics Education)
Fabrication techniques are the foundation of physical technology, and are thus of fundamental interest. Physical principles indicate that nanoscale systems will be able to fabricate a wide range of structures, operating with high productivity and precise molecular control. Advanced systems of this kind will require intermediate generations of system development, but their components can be designed and modelled today.
Toward Integrated Nanosystems: Fundamental issues in design and modeling [PDF, 2.2 MB]
(in Journal of Computational and Theoretical Nanoscience)
Computational design, modeling, and simulation can play a leading role in the development of functional nanosystems. Computational methods can describe with useful accuracy a broad range of components that have not yet been realized; hence they can in many instances be used to guide experimental in fruitful directions. Further, computational methods can be used to design multiple components that will fit together to make a functional system. This means of coordinating experimental efforts can enable the development of components that gain value from their integration with other components.
Scientific and design-oriented applications of computational methods are fundamentally distinct. Although they frequently describe similar physical systems and use similar methods, science, and design address problems that exhibit an inverse relationship between abstract descriptions (theories, designs) and physical systems (specimens, products). This distinction has broad consequences for methodology and for judging the adequacy of computational models. The distinction between the classical protein-folding problem (a scientific challenge) and the inverse folding problem (a design challenge) provides a concrete illustration.
Among functional nanosystems, those that perform fabrication have a special role because they can enable the production of other systems. Ribosomes are a widely exploited example. Computational design and simulation can aid in identifying strategic objectives on paths from current laboratory capabilities through successive generations of artificial productive nanosystems. This objective highlights the value of further developing methods for the design, modeling, and simulation of self-assembly and of self-assembled systems.