Brad Hein's Nanotechnology Site


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Background | FAQs | People | Research | Glossary | Add to the Guide

  1. What is nanotechnology?
  2. What size scale does nanotechnology operate in?
  3. What are enabling technologies?
  4. What enabling technologies could be useful in the developing nanotechnology?
  5. What enabling technologies are being developed?
  6. What should I study?
  7. How long will it take to develop nanotechnology?
  8. Is there a newsgroup and/or FAQ for nanotechnology on the Web?
  9. Is there a FAQ for medical applications of nanotechnology?
  10. How could nanotechnology be used in space development?
  11. How could nanotechnology be applied to cryonics?
  12. What books are recommended reading for nanotechnology?
  13. Where can I find nanoscale images?
  14. What are some sources of funding?
  15. Where are other information resources
  16. Who is doing nanotechnology research, and where is it being done?
  17. Who are some major proponents of nanotechnology?
  18. What companies are involved in nanotechnology?
  19. What are some study groups for nanotechnology?
  20. How can I help?


What is nanotechnology?
Nanotechnology, or more specifically molecular nanotechnology, is a projected technology that would allow the thorough, inexpensive control of the structure of matter based on molecule-by-molecule control of products and by-products built using molecular manufacturing [1, Glossary]. The term was first proposed by K. Eric Drexler. A very good introduction to nanotechnology can be found at Ralph Merkle's nanotechnology site at Xerox PARC. Also, various definitions of nanotechnology can be found on the Web, and J. Storrs Hall has adapted an overview of nanotechnology from papers by Drexler and Merkle.

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What size scale does nanotechnology operate in?
A nanometer is one billionth of a meter, and a typical atom is a little less than a third of a nanometer in diameter [1, Glossary]. Nanotechnology will deal mainly with atoms and molecules in this scale to build building blocks, and it will operate on a larger scale utilizing these building blocks and groups of building blocks. (Building blocks in this context are preassembled parts used to develop a finished product.)

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What are enabling technologies?
Enabling technologies are areas of research relevant to a particular scientific or engineering goal [1, Glossary].

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What enabling technologies could be useful in developing nanotechnology?
Enabling technologies that could be useful in the development of nanotechnology include research in proximal probes such as STMs and AFMs, protein design and molecular design of molecules containing large quantities of constituent atoms (especially carbon based), self-assembling molecules and molecule design, mechanosynthetic chemistry, and the continuing development of more powerful computer systems and enhanced chemical modeling packages.

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What enabling technologies are being developed?
Most of the enabling technologies mentioned above are being developed, although not always with nanotechnology in mind.

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What should I study?
In order to prepare for a career in nanotechnology, a grounding in basic chemistry, physics, and math is desirable. A Student Guide is available from the Foresight Institute, and I highly recommend it. If you'd like, you can view my educational plans also.

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How long will it take to develop nanotechnology?
Researchers' opinions on this vary widely--a few resources that list their opinions are at Ralph Merkle's nanotechnology site and a page in Hot Wired.

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Is there a newsgroup and/or FAQ for nanotechnology on the Web?
J. Storrs Hall has an overview of nanotechnology that serves as the FAQ for the newsgroup sci.nanotech. It's available from Rutgers HTML format.

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Is there a FAQ for medical applications of nanotechnology?
Robert Freitas has a comprehensive FAQ for Nanomedicine. The FAQ is really well written and quite detailed. The FAQ covers several questions regarding medical nanorobots, how they would interact with the body's immune system, how they would communicate, how to power them, and more.

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How could nanotechnology be used in space development?
"The cost of spaceflight is high today because spacecraft are huge, fragile things, made in such small numbers that they're almost hand-crafted. Molecular manufacturing will replace today's delicate monsters with rugged, mass-produced vehicles (which, with greater efficiency, need not be so large)"[1, page 179]. Information about the effect of nanotechnology development on space development can be found from the Molecular Manufacturing Shortcut Group (The MMSG is part of the National Space Society). The NSS has a position paper on molecular nanotechnology.

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How could nanotechnology be applied to cryonics?
I don't feel qualified to discuss cryonics because of lack of knowledge concerning it, but the precise molecular control available with advanced nanotechnology would in principle allow the preservation and molecular reconstruction necessary for cryonics. In effect, cryonics would just be another form of medicine. For more information on cryonics, there is some information at www.cryonics.org.

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What books are recommended reading for nanotechnology?
The books I'd recommend for learning about nanotechnology are Engines of Creation, Unbounding the Future, and Nanosystems. Prospects in Nanotechnology: Toward Molecular Manufacturing provides multiple perspectives on the field, and Nano! by Ed Regis describes the researchers involved in this area [2]. To find out more about these, you can look at a bibliography and list of sources for nanotechnology in the resources section of this site.

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Where can I find nanoscale images?
Some sites that have good images include IBM for STM images and Construct for VRML worlds. Various other images can be found at other nanotechnology sites, and I have a page with the images from this site also.

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What are some sources of funding?
Molecular Manufacturing Enterprises Inc. was founded to help accelerate advancements in the field of nanotechnology. They provide seed capital and other support to those developing key advances [2]. Also, if a possible relevant advance has near term market potential, I'd recommend looking at venture capital resources.

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Where are other information resources?
For more information resources, look at the resource section of this site.

Who is doing nanotechnology research, and where is it being done?
The Institute for Molecular Manufacturing is a nonprofit foundation formed to carry out research aimed at developing molecular manufacturing. The Numerical Aerodynamic Simulation (NAS) program at NASA Ames Research Center, in partner with the Ames computational chemistry branch and others, has begun to explore a possible initiative to develop a world class computational molecular nanotechnology capability [2]. For more sites doing research, turn to the research section of this guide.

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Who are some major proponents of nanotechnology?
K. Eric Drexler and Ralph Merkle are two leading researchers in the field. Molecular Manufacturing Enterprises Inc. is trying to accelerate advances in nanotechnology, and Nanothinc is a corporation that was formed to deal with nanotechnology.

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What companies are involved in nanotechnology?
As mentioned above, some companies involved include Nanothinc, Inc. and Molecular Manufacturing Enterprises Inc.

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What are some study groups for nanotechnology?
MIT has a nanotechnology study group, and there is a Los Angeles nanotechnology study group. If there are more out there, email me and I'll add it to the list.

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How can I help?
The first step would be joining the Foresight Institute. After that, I'd suggest going over what they send, and deciding how you could best help. If you want to help with this site, send me a message at bradhein@hotmail.com.

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Sources:

Unbounding the Future, K. Eric Drexler
Ralph Merkle's Nanotechnology Web Site.


This site is maintained by Brad Hein.

Have any suggestions?

Please send me an email message to me at bradhein@hotmail.com.