Foresight Update 50

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A publication of the Foresight Institute

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Foresight Institute Awards 2002 Feynman Prizes in Nanotechnology

Distinguished Student, Communication, and IMM Computational awards also made

Saturday evening of the 10th Foresight Conference on Molecular Nanotechnology was reserved for a Prize Banquet at which the Foresight Institute and Institute for Molecular Manufacturing recognized major contributions in nanotechnology. The 2002 Foresight Institute Feynman Prizes, named in honor of pioneer physicist Richard Feynman, were presented to Dr. Chad Mirkin and Dr. Don Brenner. The Foresight Prize in Communication was presented to writer and journalist David Pescovitz. Graduate student Yi Cui was the recipient of the Foresight Distinguished Student Award. The IMM Prizes in Computational Nanotechnology were awarded for the first time, with awards going to six individuals: Santiago Solares, Mario Blanco, William A. Goddard III, Carlo D. Montemagno, Lawrence Fields, and Jillian Rose.

"Nanotechnology research is making impressive advances," said Christine Peterson, President of Foresight Institute. "The prizes presented at our conference celebrate these advances and help pinpoint where the technology is going—toward molecular machine systems and molecular manufacturing. With the recent governmental and commercial support of nanotechnology, our society needs to prepare for the rapid changes nanotech will bring."

Feynman Prizes for experimental, theoretical advances in nanotechnology

The two Foresight Institute Feynman Prizes are given for experimental and theoretical advances in nanotechnology. Dr. Chad Mirkin, Professor of Chemistry and Director of the Institute of Nanotechnology & Center for Nanofabrication and Molecular Self-Assembly at Northwestern University, received the experimental award for his work in opening up possibilities for the fabrication of molecular machine systems by selectively functionalizing nanoparticles and surfaces, particularly with DNA. This research enables the self-assembly of new structures, advancing the goal of molecular manufacturing.

Dr. Don Brenner, Associate Professor, Department of Material Science and Engineering at North Carolina State University, received the theory award for his advances in the ability to model molecular machines systems and for the design and analysis of components likely to be important to the future of molecular manufacturing.

The Foresight Institute Feynman Prizes are in honor of Richard P. Feynman who, in 1959, gave a visionary talk at Caltech in which he said "The problems of chemistry and biology can be greatly helped if our ability to see what we are doing, and to do things on an atomic level, is ultimately developed—a development which I think cannot be avoided." Feynman's vision continues to inspire the nanotechnology R&D community. More information about the 2002 Foresight Institute Feynman Prize can be found at

2002 Foresight Institute Prize in Communication

A leading nanotech journalist, David Pescovitz, was awarded the Foresight Prize in Communication. Pescovitz, writer-in-residence at the University of California at Berkeley's College of Engineering and a regular columnist with Small Times, a trade publication covering nanotech developments, received this award for his accuracy and creativity in covering both technical innovations in and policy implications of nanotechnology.

This award recognizes outstanding journalistic or other communication endeavors that lead to a better public understanding of molecular nanotechnology or other key emerging technologies of high social or environmental impact. By offering this Prize, Foresight hopes to encourage continued responsible coverage of molecular nanotechnology and other emerging technologies as a means for engaging the public in dialogue leading to improved public policy on these important issues. More information about the 2002 Foresight Institute Prize in Communication can be found at

2002 Foresight Institute Distinguished Student Award

The Foresight Institute Distinguished Student award was presented to Yi Cui, a graduate student at Harvard University, for work demonstrating that electronically well-defined nanomaterials can be organized into structures with predictable electronic device properties. Yi Cui did his graduate work in the laboratory of Prof. Charles M. Lieber, Harvard University, winner of the 2001 Feynman Prize (Experimental).

The Foresight Institute Distinguished Student award recognizes the college graduate or undergraduate student whose work is deemed most notable in advancing the development and understanding of nanotechnology. More information about the 2002 Foresight Institute Distinguished Student Award can be found at

IMM Prizes in Computational Nanotechnology

This year saw the first presentations made of the new IMM Prizes in Computational Nanotechnology. The purpose of the Prizes is to stimulate research on the design, analysis, and visualization of molecular machines. Awards were made in three categories this year.

The DESIGN Category was won by the team of Santiago Solares, Mario Blanco, and William A. Goddard III at the California Institute of Technology, for their entry entitled, "Design of a Nanomechanical Fluid Control Valve Based on Functionalized Silicon Cantilevers: Coupling Molecular Mechanics and Classical Engineering Design." They provided and analyzed a novel design for the transport and precise flow control of molecules through a carbon nanotube. This design, based on the ability to constrict a nanotube by kinking it, could be constructed with existing technology.

The RENDERING Category was won by Carlo D. Montemagno at UCLA, for his entry "Engineering the Molecular Sorter." Dr. Montemagno provided a compelling visual representation of the sorting and purification of target molecules using molecular motors that have spindles coated with antibodies.

Lawrence Fields and Jillian Rose, of Phlesch Bubble Productions, won the SIMULATION category for their animation of a Freitas respirocyte . They simulated–with fine attention to detail, scientific accuracy, and high visual impact–how a respirocyte (which is a machine that would function as a red blood cell, absorbing CO2 and releasing oxygen) would operate in the bloodstream.

More information about the IMM Prizes in Computational Nanotechnology can be found at, and descriptions and links to this year's winning projects can be found at

Previous Feynman Prize winners continue to make headlines with new advances

Recent winners of the Foresight Institute Feynman Prize have continued to make headlines. Charles M. Lieber, winner of the Experimental portion of the 2001 Foresight Institute Feynman Prize in Nanotechnology (see Update 47) for his work in assembling carbon nanotubes and nanowires into nanodevices, this past month published research that demonstrated the fabrication of multi-shell nanowires, like coaxial cables 50 nm in diameter, with the different layers doped to have different electronic properties. The researchers used the layered nanowire technique to make a field-effect transistor. Although about ten-fold larger in scale than molecular electronics, such devices would be several fold smaller than current transistors. In terms of the development of nanowire-based devices, these structures could serve as new building blocks for nanotechnology. ("Transistor from layered nanowires")

Also this past month, a Hewlett-Packard press release announced a key molecular electronics patent titled "Chemically Synthesized and Assembled Electronic Devices" for creating a variety of molecular-scale electronic devices. The patent resulted from work of the multidisciplinary team of chemist R. Stanley Williams and computer scientist Philip Kuekes, both of HP Labs in Palo Alto, along with chemist James Heath of UCLA. This is the work for which the same team shared the 2000 Foresight Institute Feynman Prize in Nanotechnology (Experimental work portion, see Update 43). "We aim to do nothing less than reinvent the computer and this patent is the foundation of the effort," Williams is quoted as saying. ("Patent for self-assembled electronic devices")

During April of 2001 IBM announced major advances toward building transistors with arrays of carbon nanotubes ("IBM announces array of nanotube transistors"). Just a few months ago IBM demonstrated that it could grow very pure carbon nanotube networks on silicon carbide substrates, producing "grids of nanotubes (in rows and columns), bringing the promise of nanotube transistors arrayed across silicon chips one step closer to reality." ("Laying pure nanotubes in square grids") The lead scientist in both advances was Phaedon Avouris, winner of the 1999 Foresight Institute Feynman Prize in Nanotechnology (Experimental work portion, see Update 39) for the development of carbon nanotubes for potential computing device applications.

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Foresight Update 50 - Table of Contents


Institute for Molecular Manufacturing Report

The portion of Update 50 that constitutes the IMM Report is on the IMM Web site:

"Recent Progress: Steps Toward Nanotechnology" by Jim Lewis

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"Nanomedicine: Is Sapphire Biocompatible With Living Cells?" by Robert A. Freitas Jr.

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Senior Associates Program

The Senior Associates Program has been established to provide steady support for the research projects of the Institute for Molecular Manufacturing, and for the education and communication projects of the Foresight Institute, enabling long-term planning and commitments, and providing seed money for new efforts.

The Senior Associates Program supports vital research and education in molecular nanotechnology. It enables individuals to play a key role in advancing this technology and its responsible use through their individual or corporate contributions.

By pledging an annual contribution of $250 to $5,000 a year for five years, Senior Associates join those most committed to making a difference in nanotechnology. Benefits of becoming a Senior Associate include special publications, online interaction, and special meetings.

Foresight Institute and Institute for Molecular Manufacturing are nonprofit organizations; donations are tax-deductible in the U.S. to the full extent permitted by law. Donations can be made by check from a U.S. bank, postal money order, VISA, or Mastercard. Credit card donations may be sent by fax.

To contribute, obtain a donation form on the Foresight Institute or Institute for Molecular Manufacturing Web sites, call 650-917-1122, fax 650-917-1123, or email

Benefits of Membership include:

Special Newsletters and Online Interactions
Since the inception of the Senior Associate program in 1992, Senior Associates have received a quarterly special newsletter from the desk of Eric Drexler detailing "state of development" nanotechnology news and activities. We also have an exclusive members-only web site with news, information and events.

Special Meetings and Networking Opportunities
One of the most valuable benefits of being a Senior Associate is the opportunity to participate in yearly gatherings with other Senior Associates. This program has been expanded to include special events, workshops and seminars. We also hold a special reception for Senior Associates each year during the annual technical conference.

Discounts on Registration Fees for Foresight Conferences
Senior Associates receive a substantial discount when registering for the annual Foresight Conferences on Molecular Nanotechnology, our technical conference series.


Foresight Update 50 - Table of Contents | Page1 | Page2 | Page3 | Page4 | Page5

From Foresight Update 50, originally published 30 November 2003.