Feynman's Path to Nanotech (part 7)

Plan of Attack

The difficult we do immediately. The impossible takes a little longer. (Seabees motto)

There are at least two major parts to a project to implement the Feynman Path. The first is essentially to work out a roadmap for the second. In particular,

  1. Design a scalable, remotely-operated manufacturing and manipulation workstation capable of replicating itself anywhere from its own scale to one-quarter relative scale. As noted before, the design is allowed to take advantage of any “vitamins” or other inputs available at the scales they are needed.
  2. Implement the architecture at macroscale to test, debug and verify the design. This would be a physical implentation, probably in plastic or similar materials, at desktop scale, and would include operator controls that would not have to be replicated.
  3. Identify phase changes and potential roadblocks in the scaling pathway and determine scaling steps. Verify scalability of the architecture through these points in simulation. Example: electromagnetic to electrostatic motors. It would be perfectly legitimate to use externally supplied coils above a certain scale if they were available, and shift to electrostatic actuation, which would involve only conducting plates, below that scale, and never require the system to be able to wind coils.
  4. Identify the smallest scale, using best available fabrication and assembly technology, at which the target architecture can currently be built.
  5. Write up a detailed, actionable roadmap to the desired fabrication and manipulation techniques at the nanoscale.

Note that the state-of-the-art “starting point” that would be the bootstrap of the actual scaling series, has nothing to do with the scale (or materials) at which the conceptual debug system would be implemented. The debug system would be at a scale where the parts are easily handled by hand, both to facilitate experimentation and to make the best use of physical intuition in the design process. It would use materials, probably plastics, whose mechanical properties at the macroscale would best simulate those of the expected materials available at the nanoscale.  The starting-point system, on the other hand, might begin with a particularly stiff material (e.g. electro-discharge machined tungsten carbide) to have as little ground to make up in moving to diamondoid or the like at the nanoscale.

Building a real, physical system is valuable in a number of ways. It is far too easy to make assumptions in modeling and simulation that the recalcitrant real physical world refuses to agree with. Building a working physical model would yield significant insights into necessary capabilities, reveal bugs and design shortcomings, and serve as an experimental platform for proposed improvements.

It would also go a long way to lay to rest objections about the possibility of KSRMs, and serve as a solid experimental datapoint for further KSRM theory.

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