From nanostructured materials to biological motors, work on new nanoscale tools and devices was presented to an international audience of over 300 in Silicon Valley. These advances are on the pathway to fully-developed molecular manufacturing, molecular computing and electronics.
In the longer term, nanotechnology is expected to bring atomic precision to fields ranging from medicine to manufacturing, curing most diseases and eliminating chemical pollution. Also anticipated are superstrong, superlight materials for aerospace and ultrasmall processors for information technology.
Keynoted by Nobel Prizewinning physicist Steven Chu of Stanford, the three-day meeting brought together representatives from nanoscale projects throughout academia, national laboratories, Fortune 500 companies, and nanotechnology startups drawn from seventeen countries across four continents.
Bucky Horns:Sumio Iijima of NEC Corporation, Japan, announced the ability to grow this new class of carbon nanostructures, the next step beyond buckyballs and buckytubes.
Biopowered Nanomotor:Carlo Montemagno of Cornell University announced success in building biological-motor powered mechanical devices. All the tools are now in place to make this happen within a living cell.
Nanotube Transistor:Cees Dekker of Delft University of Technology, The Netherlands, presented work on buckytubes as a new kind of molecular quantum wire and a field effect nanotube transistor, called TubeFET.
Single-Molecule Tape Measure:Mark Akeson of University of California, Santa Cruz, announced the use of a molecular pore able to electrically "read" long molecules at high speed, even differentiating among RNA bases in groups as small as thirty. Next goal: rapidly read DNA base-by-base.
The 1998 Feynman Prize in Nanotechnology, Theoretical, went to Ralph Merkle (Xerox Palo Alto Research Center) and Stephen Walch (ELORET at NASA Ames Research Center) for their computational modeling of molecular tools for atomically-precise chemical reactions. This year's experimental Feynman Prize was awarded to M. Reza Ghadiri of Scripps Research Institute for groundbreaking work in constructing molecular structures through the use of self-organization, the same forces used to assemble the molecular machine systems found in nature.