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Foresight Update 23.47: Project launched to create molecule-size processor—December 10, 2010

ISSN 1078-9731

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Foreseeing Future Technologies - Join Foresight
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Foresight presents in Thiel Foundation “Breakthrough Philanthropy” fundraiser

The Foresight Institute was one of eight future-oriented organizations chosen to present at a “Breakthrough Philanthropy” event attended by a couple hundred wealthy individuals. Wade Roush reports in Xconomy “Peter Thiel Challenges Silicon Valley’s Wealthy to Back ‘Breakthrough’ Philanthropic Causes” …

“The future is not an abstraction,” Thiel summarized at last night’s event. “It is not something that just happens or that other people do. It is something we all participate in helping to create and forge and shape, and if we do that and set our minds to it, we can do a lot more.”

In the San Francisco Chronicle coverage “Peter Thiel seeks funding for the future” Casey Newton quotes Foresight President Christine Peterson:

“Some folks who have an unusually long time horizon, like Peter, are able to say look, I’m going to put aside the emotional satisfaction of a near-term payoff to go into this more abstract area and go for a really huge win,” said Christine Peterson, president of the Foresight Institute.

Peterson’s group, which Thiel has donated to, promotes efforts that could ultimately lead to technology that allows tiny devices to repair bodies at the cellular level.

“We are very excited about the potential environmental benefits and the medical benefits,” she said. “We’ll be trying to get those across to the crowd (on Tuesday) and get them excited about taking action.”

Update: for an amateur video of Christine’s talk, see

Graphene supercapacitor sets energy storage record

Graphene continues to live up to its reputation as one of the most useful nanomaterials for near-term applications, this time in the energy storage arena. From EETimes “Graphene supercapacitor breaks storage record” …

Congressman commends focus on job creation in National Nanotechnology Initiative draft strategic plan

In a press release from the office of Congressman Dan Lipinski, 3rd District, Illinois (Homepage:

Today, Research and Science Education Subcommittee Chairman Dan Lipinski (IL-03) expressed his strong support for the National Nanotechnology Initiative’s draft Strategic Plan, in particular its focus on ensuring that America’s substantial investment in nanotech research and development is turned into new companies, products, and jobs.

“I firmly believe that nanotechnology has enormous potential to create domestic jobs, and as a result I strongly support the draft strategy’s emphasis on technology transfer and commercialization,” Congressman Lipinski stated in a letter to John P. Holdren, Assistant to the President for Science and Technology and Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy. …

Nanodot in excellent company among top 50 blogs

Nanodot has been included in a list over at Masters in Clinical Research of the Top 50 Blogs by Scientific Researchers…

Molecular building blocks form three-dimensional structures on surfaces

Brian Wang at Nextbigfuture sends this news of “Self assembly of three dimensional structures using molecular building blocks by the University of Nottingham. The new process involved introducing a guest molecule — in this case a ‘buckyball’ or C60 — on to a surface patterned by an array of tetracarboxylic acid molecules.” …

Project launched to create and test a molecular-sized processor chip

A project headed by two-time Foresight Institute Feynman Prize winner Prof. Christian Joachim (he shared the 1997 Experimental prize and was the sole winner of the 2005 Theoretical prize) joins Singapore’s A*STAR with 10 European Union research organizations to lay the foundations for creating and testing a molecular-sized processor chip. A press release from Singapore’s Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR) …

How graphene could complement or replace silicon in electronic applications

As a follow up to the posts last week on new developments with graphene, Nanodot readers might want to check out an overview of the marvelous properties of this form of carbon currently featured in IEEE Spectrum …

Adding fluorine to graphene produces flat crystal version of Teflon

Adding an atom of fluorine to each carbon atom of graphene produces fluorographene, an atomically thin insulator that could be used as a tunnel barrier in electronic devices based on graphene, and also an atomically precise two dimensional analog of Teflon that could be very useful for applications requiring high mechanical strength and chemical inertness. …

Nanotechnology leading toward spin computers

The announcement of graphene as the topic of this year’s Nobel in Physics has been rapidly followed by more announcements of novel properties of graphene that will pave the way for exciting new applications, such as the two discoveries that are the focus of this week’s posts. The focus with both discoveries is on exciting near-term applications, but these sorts of advances will also help, at least indirectly, to pave the road towards advanced nanotechnology. …

Devices with atomically smooth surfaces could change modern electronics

Foresight’s major interest is the transformations in human life that will be made possible by general purpose systems for the atomically precise fabrication of a wide range of products. Although we will probably have to wait two or three decades for such systems to be developed (unless a major effort is mounted to do it sooner), the following item shows that current advances in nanoscience leading to producing microscale atomically precise surfaces already hold the promise of revolutionary adances in important technologies—in this case electronics technologies. …

Surface properties of nanoparticles have profound effect on how cells respond

For nanoparticles to become safely used for drug delivery or gene therapy, it will be essential to demonstrate that they affect the cells they enter via the intended effect of the cargo they deliver—not through unexpected interference with cellular function or gene expression, which is much more likely to be harmful than beneficial. Now researchers led by 2002 Foresight Institute Feynman Prize in Nanotechnology-Experimental winner Chad Mirkin have demonstrated that nucleic acids loosely bound to gold nanoparticles have profound, unanticipated effects on cellular gene expression, while nanoparticles carrying covalently bound nucleic acids produce no unintended effects on cellular gene expression. …

—Nanodot posts by James Lewis

Foreseeing Future Technologies

Advancements in technologies such as nanotech, robotics, and biotech are promising to make major differences in our lives in the not-too-distant future, as the Industrial Revolution did to the agrarian world — to do for the physical world what the computer and Internet have done to the world of information.

Since 1986, the Foresight Institute has been in the forefront of a worldwide community of visionaries who work to help shape these possibilities into a positive, beneficial reality. If you would like to help us understand the potential of these technologies, and influence their direction, please consider becoming a member of the Foresight community. With your support, Foresight will continue to educate the general public on these technologies and what they will mean to our society.

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