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DNA nanotechnology builds 3D forms with complex curves (includes video)

Foresight Update 24.05—May 5, 2011
ISSN 1078-9731

The Foresight @ Google: 25th Anniversary Conference Celebration (register by May 15 for discount) and keynote speaker Jim Von Ehr were highlighted in the Dallas Morning News:

Dallas nanotechnology expert Jim Von Ehr giving keynote speech at Foresight Institute nanotech conference at Google HQ in June
I've written before about Jim Von Ehr, founder and head of Richardson-based nanotechnology company Zyvex Corp. One of the most notable things about Von Ehr is that, in addition to running his own company, he's deeply involved in investing in tech companies and addressing trends in the field, particularly in his own realm of nano. …

Check out Jim's cool new nanotech-based boat.

Discuss these news stories at

In this issue:

Foresight Events
Foreseeing Future Technologies - Join Foresight
Contact Foresight

Much faster directed evolution of proteins could speed development of molecular machine systems

One of the principal recommendations of the Technology Roadmap for Productive Nanosystems was to “Support the development of modular molecular composite nanosystems (MMCNs)” … in which large DNA frameworks … are to be used to support relatively rigid functional objects of engineered proteins. Such proteins could be engineered through either rational design or directed evolution …. Laboratory-directed evolution can, however, be laborious, so anything to make it faster and easier might substantially advance this approach. …

Combined computational and experimental study illuminates motions of molecules across a surface

How do molecules with one, two, or three “legs”, each with a “foot” that binds to a receptor on a surface, move across the surface in the presence of competing receptors that are free in solution? Will understanding how such molecules move lead to the ability to control movement molecule by molecule? A team of researchers from Ireland and the Netherlands illuminated the first question and appears confident that the answer to the second question is “yes”. …

Nanotechnology boosts anticancer drug cocktail many times over

Using nanoparticles for drug delivery, particularly to treat cancer, has been under development for several years. Liposomes were one of the earliest and simplest types of nanoparticles used for cancer drug delivery, and were often not much more complex than vesicles of lipid bilayer, typically less than 200 nm in diameter, encapsulating an anticancer drug. Now more complex and sophisticated nanoparticles promise to be much more effective in treating cancer. …

DNA nanotechnology builds 3D forms with complex curves (includes video)

Since Paul Rothemund’s scaffolded DNA origami procedure was first cited here, it has provided scaffolds for a number of advances in structural DNA nanotechnology, from positioning DNA devices to cooperate or organizing functional components to building boxes with lids. Thanks to Stuart Scott for pointing to this Arizona State University news release announcing an important extension of this technique to 3D DNA nanostructures with complex curvatures. …

Real-time monitoring of atomic force microscope probes

The use of atomic force microscopes to manipulate atoms on surfaces … is one promising alternative path for advancing nanotechnology toward productive nanosystems and molecular manufacturing. As was apparent in a recent interview of Professor Philip Moriarty of the University of Nottingham, many of the major technical obstacles encountered with atomic force microscopes involve the quality and reproducibility of the tips. [Now] a way to improve AFM tips …

Willow Garage TurtleBot advances open source do-it-yourself robotics

Those interested in an open source/DIY approach to emerging transformative technologies may want to look at an article (with video) on about a new affordable programmable robot from Willow Garage …

High-resolution structure reveals versatility of RNA nanotechnology

Compared to the more extensively studied DNA nanotechnology route to building complex molecular objects, RNA nanotechnology offers potential advantages because it is capable of a wider variety of small structural motifs. A vivid demonstration of the great structural versatility that can be exploited in building artificial structures of RNA is provided by the first high-resolution structure determination of an artificial RNA nanostructure: a square 6 nm on a side …. The structure of this RNA nano-object was determined to a resolution of 0.22 nm and shows that all four corners have distinct structures. …

Will building humanlike robots promote friendly AI?

David Hanson, the founder and CTO of Hanson Robotics, a maker of humanlike robots and AI software, has a stimulating article in IEEE Spectrum that makes points that are also relevant to the larger issue of how we develop machine intelligence, in partiular how we ensure that hyper-intelligent AI remains “friendly”. …

Nanotechnology promises low-cost method to squash superbugs

While we push for the development of atomically precise productive nanosystems to manufacture microscopic robots for advanced nanomedicine, current day nanotechnology is providing promising candidates for near-term treatment of unmet medical needs: drug delivery vehicles, scaffolds for tissue engineering, and now, a way to kill drug-resistant “superbugs” while sparing blood cells. …

Confining enzymes in specially engineered nanoporous materials may advance nanotechnology

The process of engineering proteins as components of molecular machine systems leading toward advanced nanotechnology may be accelerated by a recent report that confining enzymes inside nanopores leads to altered and enhanced enzymatic activity. …

Toxicity of silver nanoparticles on Arctic soil

While advocating the commercial exploitation of current nanoscience and nanotechnology …, Foresight has also supported adequate study of the potential effects of nanoparticles on the environment, health, and safety (EHS) … this news release from Queen’s University in Canada … reminds us of the need for expanded research on nanoparticle safety …

Nanotechnology makes possible boat 40% stronger and 75% lighter than metal boats

Most of us who anticipate and advocate the development of advanced nanotechnology also like to track the development of current uses for incremental nanoscience and nanotechnology in the expectation that demonstration of superior products from incremental nanotechnology will create knowledge, tools, profits, and demand for developing advanced nanotechnology. Zyvex corporation evinced a similar outlook with its reorganization in 2007 into Zyvex Labs to develop atomically precise manufacturing and several other companies devoted to exploiting near term opportunities. Here from Jaclyn Bacallao for Zyvex Technologies is an example of a very macroscale application of nanomaterials technology …

—Nanodot posts by James Lewis

Foresight Events – Lectures

25th Anniversary Conference @ Google
June 25-26, 2011
Mountain View, California

Foresight is happy to announce that our 25th Anniversary Reunion Conference will be hosted by Google at their main campus in Mountain View, CA on the weekend of June 25th and 26th, 2011.

Join friends old and new this summer at Google's Mountain View headquarters in Silicon Valley as we explore the future of nanotech with a rockstar lineup of nanotech experts and entrepreneurs.

Foreseeing Future Technologies

Advancements in technologies such as nanotech, robotics, and biotech are promising to make major differences in our lives in the not-too-distant future, as the Industrial Revolution did to the agrarian world — to do for the physical world what the computer and Internet have done to the world of information.

Since 1986, the Foresight Institute has been in the forefront of a worldwide community of visionaries who work to help shape these possibilities into a positive, beneficial reality. If you would like to help us understand the potential of these technologies, and influence their direction, please consider becoming a member of the Foresight community. With your support, Foresight will continue to educate the general public on these technologies and what they will mean to our society.

To join:


Humanity+ @ Parsons NYC
May 14-15 2011 New York City, NY, USA
Humanity+ International is partnering with Parsons The New School for Design in New York City to produce a conference exploring emerging technology, transdisciplinary design, culture and media theory, and biotech.

The conference brings together futurists, cyberneticists, life extensionists, singularity advocates, A[G]I and robotics experts, human enhancement specialists, inventors, ethicists, philosophers, and theorists to meet with the creativity and rigorous scholarship of design at Parsons.

Nano and Giga Challenges in Electronics, Photonics and Renewable Energy
Symposium and Summer School (Tutorial Lectures)
September 12-16 2011 Moscow - Zelenograd, Russia

The NGC2011 conference in Russia invites academic and industrial researchers to present tutorial, expository and original research papers dedicated to solving scientific and technological problems in electronics, photonics and renewable energy …

The Seventeenth International Conference on DNA Computing and Molecular Programming
September 19-23 2011
Caltech, Pasadena, California, USA

Research in DNA computing and molecular programming draws together mathematics, computer science, physics, chemistry, biology, and nanotechnology to address the analysis, design, and synthesis of information-based molecular systems. This annual meeting is the premier forum where scientists with diverse backgrounds come together with the common purpose of advancing the engineering and science of biology and chemistry from the point of view of computer science, physics, and mathematics. Continuing this tradition, the 17th International Conference on DNA Computing and Molecular Programming (DNA17), under the auspices of the International Society for Nanoscale Science, Computation and Engineering (ISNSCE), will focus on the most recent experimental and theoretical results that promise the greatest impact.

Moving from Top Down to Bottom Up
September 22 2011 - 14:00 GMT, webinar

This IOP webinar will look at examples of bottom up approaches to engineering and manufacturing from different sectors including biosensing, electronics and regenerative medicine.

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