Technology is becoming molecularly precise. Nanotechnology, otherwise known as molecular engineering, will soon create effective machines as small as DNA. This capacity to manipulate matter -- to program matter -- with atomic precision will utterly change the economic, ecological, and cultural fabric of our lives. This book, which is accessible to a broad audience while providing references to the technical literature, presents a wide range of potential applications of this new material technology.The first chapter introduces the basic concepts of molecular engineering and demonstrates that several mutually reinforcing trends in current research are leading directly into a world of surprisingly powerful molecular machines. Nine original essays on specific applications follow the introductory chapter. The first section presents applications of nanotechnology that interact directly with the molecular systems of the human body. The second presents applications that function, for the most part, outside the body. The final section details the mechanisms of a universal human-machine interface and the operation of an extremely high resolution display system.
Advances in physics, molecular biology, and computer science are converging on the capacity to control, with molecular precision, the structure and function of matter. These twenty original contributions provide the first broad-based multidisciplinary definition and examination of the revolutionary new discipline of molecular engineering, or nanotechnology. They address both the promise as well as the economic, environmental, and cultural challenges of this emerging atomic-scale technology.
Leaders in their field describe current technologies that feed into nanotechnology - atomic imaging and positioning, protein engineering, and the de novo, design and synthesis of self-assembling molecular structures. They present development strategies for coordinating recent work in chemistry, biotechnology, and scanning-probe microscopy in order to successfully design and engineer molecular systems. They also explore advances in molecular and quantum electronics as well as reversible computational systems and the fundamental physical constraints on computation. Additional chapters discuss research efforts in Japan and present the prospects of nanotechnology as seen from the perspective of a microtechnologist.
The final section looks at the implications of success, including the prospects of enormous computational power and the radical consequences of molecular mechanical systems in the fields of medicine and life extension.
BC Crandall is Cofounder and Vice President of Prime Arithmetics, Inc.
Contributors: Robert Birge. Federico Capasso. BC Crandall. K. Eric Drexler. Gregory Fahy. Richard Feynman. John Foster. Tracy Handel. Bill Joy. Arthur Kantrowitz. Joseph Mallon. Norman Margolus. Ralph Merkle. Lester Milbrath. Gordon Tullock. Hiroyuki Sasabe. Michael Ward.