According to a press release (27 November 2001), the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) has awarded $13.75 million to the the MIT Media Laboratory to create a Center for Bits and Atoms to explore how the content of information relates to its physical representation, from atomic nuclei to global networks. From the release:
"The center will bring nanofabrication, chemistry and biology labs together with rapid mechanical prototyping, electronic instrumentation and high-bay assembly workspaces. This integrated suite of resources is being developed to enable its researchers to shape simultaneously the information in a system and its physical embodiment, from microscopic to macroscopic scales. The NSF funding will help support research, education and outreach programs, as well as technological infrastructure. "
"Among the challenges to be tackled will be developing "personal fabricators" to bring the malleability that personal computers provide for the digital world into the physical world; providing bidirectional molecular interfaces between computers and living systems; and bringing advanced information technologies to bear on some of the most intractable problems in global development and security."