Yesterday we began a renewed look at CRN's Thirty Essential Nanotechnology Studies. These are the preliminary conclusions that form the basis of our provisional answers to each study:
- Programmable positional chemistry, with the ability to fabricate nanocomponents, can be the basis of an extremely powerful manufacturing technology. The importance of this is substantially unrecognized.
- Development of molecular manufacturing may be imminent, depending on whether any of several actors has begun investigating it already. We believe that a program started today, even outside the United States, could finish in under a decade, including development of a substantial product design capability.
- Development activity may be very difficult to detect.
- Several considerations, including economics and product sophistication, point to MM being a transformative, disruptive, destabilizing, and potentially dangerous technology.
- Although the technology may be quite dangerous, avoidance and prevention are not viable options. Simple attempts to dominate or control the capability will also be unworkable.
- MM will also have many productive uses, and policy must account for the global-scale problems it can solve as well as a possible high level of civilian demand/utilization.
- Policymaking and preparation will be complex and difficult, and will require substantial time.
The Thirty Studies are organized in five sections. The first section (described yesterday) covers fundamental theory: insights that may be counterintuitive or unobvious and need explanation, but that can be double-checked by simple thought. The second section, studies 3-6, addresses technological capabilities of possible molecular manufacturing technologies.
Section Two: Capabilities of Molecular Manufacturing Technologies
Molecular manufacturing (MM) is the use of programmable chemistry to make programmable products, including duplicate manufacturing systems. Programmability implies automation, and duplication implies low capital cost. MM may drastically reduce the cost of both products and manufacturing capacity. In addition, precise control of chemistry should produce very strong structure and very compact functionality. High performance products imply high performance manufacturing. Quantifying these advantages is necessary to understand the impact and desirability of MM.
3. What is the performance and potential of diamondoid machine-phase chemical manufacturing and products?
4. What is the performance and potential of biological programmable manufacturing and products?
5. What is the performance and potential of nucleic acid manufacturing and products?
6. What other chemistries and options should be studied?
We are actively looking for researchers interested in performing or assisting with this work. Please contact CRN Research Director Chris Phoenix if you would like more information or if you have comments on the proposed studies.