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Virtual Mechanosynthesis

C. Levit*, S.T. Bryson, C.E. Henze

NASA Ames Research Center

This is an abstract for a talk to be given at the
Fifth Foresight Conference on Molecular Nanotechnology.
There will be a link from here to the full article when it is available on the web.


We describe a prototype implementation of a virtual environment for simulating diamondoid and fullerene mechanosynthesis. The interactive system employs a reactive hydrocarbon potential[1] coupled to a three-degree-of-freedom haptic (force-feedback) arm[2] and a real-time graphic display. The user can attach his hand to an atom or molecule and maneuver it in three-dimensional space. The reactive potential calculates the resultant forces and motions of all atoms, including changes in bonding topology. The forces on the atoms being manipulated are continuously fed back to the user through the haptic interface, while the newly calculated positions of all atoms are continuously updated on the graphics display.

This system allows users to (virtually) interrogate and manipulate matter on an atomic or molecular scale. These operations can be used to explore new strategies for mechanosynthesis, to rehearse and debug complicated assembly sequences for possible future execution by a nanomanipulator[3], and to develop chemical intuition.

[1] D. W. Brenner, Phys. Rev. B 42, 9458 (1990).

*Corresponding Address:
Creon Levit, Computational Molecular Nanotechnology Group, NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, CA. 94035-1000, ph: 415-604-4403, email:


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