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« Prototyping Future Weapons | Main | Fantastic Visions »

July 27, 2006


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On the page devoted to challenges, I saw reference once again, to the debate between yourself and Phillip Moriarty regarding the feasibility of using current techniques to synthesize the first tooltip. The specific proposal, the use of carbon vapor deposition to create an inverted pyramid, was criticize on the grounds that surface forces would make a clumpy mess instead of a pyramid.

I would like to bring to your attention to this article, regarding the fabrication of a pyramid of tungsten atoms with a single atom tip. I wonder if the technique used, "chemically assisted spatially controlled field evaporation", offers anything new that can be used to improve the Freitas CVD proposal. The application of the tungsten tip, that is mentioned, is for use in electron microscopes; hopefully the fabrication method can also be applied to SPM use.

Chris Phoenix, CRN

This proposal makes the tip sharp by removing atoms; I think it starts with a crystal.

It might be used to make a sharp diamond tip (diamond crystal isn't conductive, but CVD diamond can apparently pass electrons somehow--maybe the surface is doped?)

Anyway, the point of Freitas's proposal was not just to make a sharp tip, but to have a certain molecule fastened to the tip. Freitas's CVD suggestion was intended to grow the tip around/above the molecule. So I don't immediately see how this method would help.


Michael Deering

What are they planning on doing with a nanofactory once they have one? Sell'm at Wal-Mart? Are they planning on building in any kind of restrictions on what product files can be loaded into it, or what kinds of stuff it can make?

Jan-Willem Bats

"This is a big deal. It's the first project explicitly aimed at building a high-performance general-purpose nanofactory manufacturing system based on molecular manufacturing."

Then what are you guys at CRNano doing?

Their timeline resembles CRNano's timeline; you guys also predict MM as a near-certainty by 2020.


Foresight is ran by Drexler, I believe crnano takes a great amount of thier theories from Drexler.

This is just a roadmap, I think they're going to plan it out and see if its theoretically possible without actually making one. Not too accurate, but interesting to see thier findings.


DT: Drexler is no longer affiliated with the foresight institute. He left in 2003

Chris Phoenix, CRN

Michael: I don't know if they're thinking that far ahead yet.

DT: This is a separate effort from the Foresight/Battelle Roadmap project. The F/B R seems to be focused largely on biopolymer-based approaches, while the Nanofactory Collaboration is a direct-to-diamondoid effort.

Drexler is involved in the F/B R, but as Matt notes, he's no longer associated with Foresight.

The Nanofactory Collaboration is not just a roadmap; they apparently actually intend to build something, and are already working toward it.

CRN takes most of our technical theories from Drexler. Our policy work is certainly inspired by Drexler, but we have been developing it for several years without much input from him.

Jan-Willem: We at CRN aren't working on developing a nanofactory. We will be talking about how/whether to respond publicly/privately.

In one sense, this wasn't a surprise--the Freitas mechanosynthesis proposal was published a while ago, and related experiments were mentioned online. But the formal launch/announcement is certainly a milestone worth noting.


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