R&D Targets and Regulatory Risks
in Molecular Manufacturing
This is an abstract
for a talk to be given at the
Foresight Conference on Molecular Nanotechnology.
There will be a link from here to the full article when it is
available on the web.
The development of a viable molecular manufacturing industry
will depend on the strategic selection of R&D targets and the
proactive avoidance of regulatory risks. Achieving precise
positional control of molecules via assemblers would provide one
critical component of a complete manufacturing system. Scaling up
the technology and developing the additional components needed
for industrial manufacturing operations is another challenge.
These components must then be integrated into a molecular factory
of the future, a considerable systems engineering project. In the
past, large systems engineering efforts in defense and space
applications received major boosts from large government R&D
efforts. These efforts were often justified by the potential or
actual "spin-offs" from the research. An alternative
strategy for funding molecular manufacturing R&D is to
identify the critical components needed for an eventual factory,
and focus on specific target components that provide immediate
economic value added. Nanosystems integration companies will
emerge to provide the systems engineering and integration of
"best of breed" molecular manufacturing components.
This approach does not preclude huge government investment in
molecular manufacturing R&D, in fact, it stimulates and
leverages it. Further, it provides an alternate route to
development, which may work in the absence of a critical mass of
government R&D funds. Development of a viable molecular
manufacturing industrial base will also require proactive R&D
attention to specific environmental, defense, and intelligence
issues that may drive reflexive controls on the industry, and
prevent timely and responsible deployment of the technology.
Neil Jacobstein, President & Chief Operating Officer,
Teknowledge Corporation, 1810 Embarcadero Road, Palo Alto, CA
94303, email: email@example.com