In this month's CRN science essay, Chris Phoenix writes:
Here in a nutshell is the molecular manufacturing plan: Build a system that does a billion chemical reactions, one after the other, on the same molecule, with very high reliability, to make perfect molecular products. The system does chemical reactions by holding molecules and moving them into place through a vacuum, to transfer atoms to the product, adding a few atoms at a time to build molecular shapes. Use that system to build nanoscale machine components, and assemble the components into nanoscale machines. Control a bunch of these machines to build more machine components, one deposition at a time; then combine those machine components into large products. This will need huge numbers of machines, arrayed in a factory. Use an initial small factory to make another bigger factory, repeating enough times to grow to kilogram scale. Use the resulting big factory to make products from downloaded blueprints.
As we will see, nearly every phrase in this description may evoke skepticism from someone; however, all of these objections, and many others, have been addressed. The technical foundation for the modern approach to molecular manufacturing was laid with the 1992 publication of Nanosystems. After so many years, any objection that comes readily to mind has probably been thought of before. We encourage those who are just encountering the ideas of MM to work through the initial skepticism and misunderstanding that comes from unfamiliarity, recognizing that a large number of scientists have been unable to identify any showstoppers. Although the theory has not yet reached the point of being proved by the existence of a nanofactory, it has reached the point where a conversation that assumes most of it is correct will be more productive than a conversation that assumes it's fatally flawed.
The following is an imagined conversation between a molecular manufacturing researcher and a room full of scientists who are new to the ideas... MORE HERE