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« Efficient Robots, Part II | Main | Josh Hall as Foresight Institute President »

March 16, 2009


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Robert A. Freitas Jr.

Hi, Chris. I'm glad to see others finally acknowledging the brilliant experimental mechanosynthesis work of Oscar Custance's group in Japan, which you and I have been following with great interest for many years. (I recall us discussing Custance’s Oct08 work at the Convergence08 conference last November, and CRN previously reported these results, along with a link to the paper.)

Custance’s 2008 paper is just the latest in a long series of related work by this group (beginning with the first experimental demonstration of true vacuum-phase mechanosynthesis in 2003) which your readers, if they’re interested, can learn more about by perusing the relevant abstracts starting at:

Tom Craver

Pasting (and slightly correcting) a comment I put on Dr. Drexler's site:

"If a method like this could be combined with Atomic Layer Deposition, it seems like it’d be getting awfully close to allowing building 3D structures - embedded in a solid, so the next step would be figuring out how to “free” the structure without destroying it."

Chris Phoenix

Hi, Robert! Thanks for the comment and links.

Tom, if I understand correctly, Zyvex is already working on multi-layer patterned deposition. They use a scanning probe microscope to remove hydrogen atoms from a silicon crystal, then deposit new atoms where the silicon has been deprotected. Lather, rinse, repeat...


Tom Craver

I've read about Zyvex's approach - but wondered whether it would be possible to build adequately complex shapes with it - i.e. it sounds like they can stack stuff up, but could they make side-branching structures? Not saying it isn't a useful approach - you could make convex shapes and connect them together to make more complex shapes.

Building up full layers, with the 3D object embedded, then somehow removing the embedding matrix (miracle occurs here), you could create nearly any arbitrary shape - even non-connected shapes, such as a linked chain.

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