This is big news. It's the first time we've seen such significant government funding of research directly connected to molecular manufacturing.
We get more in the following press release from our colleagues at the Nanofactory Collaboration:
The Nottingham work grew out of continuing discussions on DMS between Moriarty and Robert Freitas, a Senior Research Fellow at the Institute for Molecular Manufacturing (IMM) (Palo Alto, California, U.S.). These discussions started in January 2005.
Freitas and Ralph Merkle, also a Senior Fellow at IMM, founded the Nanofactory Collaboration in 2001 to pursue molecular manufacturing via DMS. Since then they have produced a series of papers reporting a set of careful density functional theory (DFT) and quantum chemistry calculations on fundamental mechanosynthetic reactions in diamondoid systems. In April 2008 the two IMM researchers published the results of a comprehensive three-year project to computationally analyze a complete set of DMS reaction sequences and an associated minimal set of tooltips that could be used to build basic diamond and graphene (e.g., carbon nanotube) structures. These structures include all of the tools themselves along with the necessary tool recharging reactions. A particularly useful result of this study was the proposal of an experimentally viable route towards the fabrication of a rechargeable toolset that can extract hydrogen, deposit carbon, and donate hydrogen to a diamond surface.
Moriarty is interested in testing the viability of positionally-controlled atom-by-atom fabrication of diamondoid materials as described in the Freitas-Merkle minimal toolset theory paper. Moriarty’s efforts will be the first time that specific predictions of DFT in the area of mechanosynthesis will be rigorously tested by experiment. His work also directly addresses the requirement for “proof of principle” mechanosynthesis experiments requested in the 2006 National Nanotechnology Initiative (NNI) review, in the 2007 Battelle/Foresight nanotechnology roadmap, and by EPSRC’s Strategic Advisor for Nanotechnology, Richard Jones (Physics, Sheffield University, U.K.).
“We congratulate Philip for his tremendous success in securing funding for this pathbreaking effort,” said Freitas. “We look forward to working together closely with his experimental team as this exciting project goes forward over the next five years.”