Authors: 
P. Moriarty
Category: 
Invited
Conference: 
Abstract: 

Nanotechnology, and in particular the molecular manufacturing and nanoassembler concepts first put forward by K Eric Drexler [1] in the eighties, have been lauded as key enabling technologies to advance the human condition. At the core of this approach is the manipulation of single atoms and molecules using computer-controlled actuators or probes, which he argues will enable the assembly of "virtually anything" from basic raw materials [2]. Widely decried in both the academic scientific community and in a variety of popular science publications and media [3], this form of molecular nanotechnology (MNT) has thus yet to be explored or tested experimentally. Nevertheless, at the core of this approach there is a demonstrably valid idea: the controlled positioning and manipulation of single atoms and molecules using, for example, scanning probe microscopes.

I will critically assess MNT from the perspective of an experimental nanoscientist [4], focussing in particular on the aims and objectives of a recently-funded programme of work [5] on computer-controlled assembly of diamond nanostructures, e.g. via mechanosynthesis [6].

1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/K._Eric_Drexler

2. http://pubs.acs.org/cen/coverstory/8148/8148counterpoint.html

3. http://cohesion.rice.edu/NaturalSciences/Smalley/emplibrary/SA285-76.pdf

4. http://www.softmachines.org/wordpress/?p=70

5. http://crnano.typepad.com/crnblog/2008/08/building-digital-matter.html

6. http://www.MolecularAssembler.com/Papers/MinToolset.pdf

Keywords (Optional): 
molecular nanotechnology
mechanosynthesis
diamondoid