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Positional control of chemical reaction a step toward advanced nanotechnology

Foresight Update 24.04—April 5, 2011
ISSN 1078-9731

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In this issue:

Foresight Events – Lectures
Foreseeing Future Technologies - Join Foresight
Contact Foresight

Bottom Up as a next step within Top Down

The International Technology Roadmap for Semiconductors includes "bottom up" as a next step within a "top down" roadmap as Moore's Law advances further into the nanoscale realm. The following business news from EE Times is brought to our attention by Dr. Rob Meagley, who was a mentor to work in this area at Intel and later at UWI NSEC …

Will more efficient protein folding program advance nanotechnology?

…we found another item at that reports a promising new technique from MIT's Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory for modeling protein folding. As with the previous advance we will wait to see if increased understanding of the folding of natural, evolved proteins will aid efforts to design proteins from scratch to fold in a predetermined way as a path toward engineering components of advanced molecular machine systems. …

Physicist and television host sees future for nanotechnology and AI

Foresight Board of Advisors member law professor Glenn Harlan Reynolds reviewed Michio Kaku's Physics of the Future, which he describes as "a wide-ranging tour of what to expect from technological progress over the next century or so." …

Mechanical manipulation of silicon dimers on a silicon surface (video)

…We are indebted to Brian Wang for informing us of an interview of Philip Moriarty by Sander Olsen published yesterday on Next Big Future. This is a very substantial interview in which Moriarty presents their latest work mechanically manipulating dimers of silicon on a Si(100) surface (complete with lengthy video of the results!), explains why silicon is much easier to work with than diamond, expresses confidence in the eventual ability to instruct a computer to built a three-dimensional nanostructure atom-by-atom, thus validating key aspects of Drexler's mechanosynthesis proposals, but also expresses skepticism that such abilities could be scaled up to develop macroscale molecular manufacturing or to produce hordes of medical nanorobots as proposed by Freitas and cited by Ray Kurzweil. …

AFM visualization of molecular robot moving along DNA scaffold (with video)

A month ago we reported that Andrew Turberfield's team at the University of Oxford in the UK had built a molecular robot that could be programmed to move in any direction along a branched track. Now they have teamed up with Hiroshi Sugiyama's team in Kyoto and Tokyo, Japan to use atomic force microscopy to directly observe the stepwise movement of the molecular robot along a long (100 nm) DNA track. …

Is policy uncertainty the cause of anemic growth in nanotechnology innovation?

A Nanotechnology Now column by Skip Rung, President and Executive Director of ONAMI argues that the US is losing its manufacturing base and stifling nanotechnology innovation "with increasingly wrongheaded and costly regulatory barriers", and recommends a focused regulatory approach to green nanotechnology to remedy the problem. …

Controlling the orientation and stretching of DNA attached to a surface

One approach to shrinking complex electronic circuits envisions joining DNA-organic molecule-DNA (DOD) building blocks into arrays. Stanford University scientists have now demonstrated a method to attach DNA to a surface and to control the orientation and stretching of the DNA such that DOD building blocks could be used to build circuits. …

Positional control of chemical reaction a step toward advanced nanotechnology

A major feature of the advanced nanotechnology to be implemented in nanofactories will be positional mechanosynthesis—precise mechanical control of how reactive molecules and molecular fragments interact. In an important step toward that goal, scientists at UCLA and the University of Washington have shown that two molecules can be positioned on a surface to produce a reaction that would not occur if they were free to move in solution. …

Work theoretically extracted from molecular motor

Recently published computational work from the laboratories of Feynman Prize winners Mark A. Ratner (Theoretical, 2001) and George C. Schatz (Theoretical, 2008) has demonstrated a molecular motor in which work is done on a scanning probe microscope tip by a change in molecular shape caused by light. Although light activated molecular motors have been reported before (see for example "Molecular machine switches magnetic state at room temperature"), this result is noteworthy because the motor performs mechanical work on an external device.…

Atomically precise graphene nanotechnology

The laboratory of 2008 Feynman Prize winner (Experimental) James Tour has taken another step toward atomically precise manufacturing with graphene. Sputtering a pattern of zinc atoms on a graphene surface, followed by an acid rinse to remove the zinc, also removes exactly one atomic layer of graphene from where ever the graphene was covered with zinc atoms, forming a pattern on the graphene surface that is atomically precise in the vertical dimension. …

Self-assembly of a molecular piston

Brian Wang from Next Big Future writes with news from a French and Chinese collaboration of a breakthrough in using self-assembly to fabricate synthetic nanomachines. Often such artificial molecular machines are plagued by the fact that the self-assembled parts are held together loosely and thus fall apart prematurely. They have designed a molecular piston in which disassembly is four orders of magnitude slower than the movements of the molecular piston. …

Protein folding is a quantum transition

… a paradigm shift in understanding the scientific problem of protein folding, in particular the temperature dependence of protein folding, amounts to, in the words of one knowledgeable commenator, "the first universal laws of protein folding". …

Does nanotechnology need PR?

Pearl Chin, Foresight Institute Research Fellow and former President, is now blogging at BestThinking and in a recent post discusses the future of nanotechnology. From "Nanotechnology Needs PR":…

I was invited to a select salon at Science House with Hybrid Reality Institute to discuss the future of nanotechnology a few weeks ago. It turned out to be a lot of fun meeting interesting people and speaking about what I love but it did dawn on me that during that dinner that people thought nanotechnology was no longer happening. …

—Nanodot posts by James Lewis

Foresight Events – Lectures

Engineering Biomolecules with Nanotechnology
April 21, 2011
Mountain View, California

Dr. Robert Meagley will kick off Foresight's local Bay Area community events with a dinner lecture, 7pm at Don Giovanni's - 235 Castro Street, Mountain View, CA, 94041.
Cost: $30 for dinner. To attend, please RSVP by Paypaling $30 to with your entree choice (salmon, chicken, or vegetarian penne) in the notes by Monday April 18th.

Rob is CEO, CTO and resident "Mad Scientist" at ONE Nano, a company founded to invent, develop and market photonic nanodevices and device arrays for biomarker characterization and related technology.

25th Anniversary Conference @ Google
June 25-26, 2011
Mountain View, California
Web page coming soon

Foresight is happy to announce that our 25th Anniversary Reunion Conference will be hosted by Google at their main campus in Mountain View, CA on the weekend of June 25th and 26th, 2011.

Remember how much fun you've had at Foresight Vision weekends in the past? Come reconnect with old friends - and meet some new ones! - as we join with topic experts to explore technological advances, and discuss how to best shape next 25 years of nanotechnology.

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.

To join:


Nano and Giga Challenges in Electronics, Photonics and Renewable Energy
Symposium and Summer School (Tutorial Lectures)
September 12-16 2011 Moscow - Zelenograd, Russia

The NGC2011 conference in Russia invites academic and industrial researchers to present tutorial, expository and original research papers dedicated to solving scientific and technological problems in electronics, photonics and renewable energy …

The Seventeenth International Conference on DNA Computing and Molecular Programming
September 19-23 2011
Caltech, Pasadena, California, USA

Research in DNA computing and molecular programming draws together mathematics, computer science, physics, chemistry, biology, and nanotechnology to address the analysis, design, and synthesis of information-based molecular systems. This annual meeting is the premier forum where scientists with diverse backgrounds come together with the common purpose of advancing the engineering and science of biology and chemistry from the point of view of computer science, physics, and mathematics. Continuing this tradition, the 17th International Conference on DNA Computing and Molecular Programming (DNA17), under the auspices of the International Society for Nanoscale Science, Computation and Engineering (ISNSCE), will focus on the most recent experimental and theoretical results that promise the greatest impact.

Moving from Top Down to Bottom Up
September 22 2011 - 14:00 GMT, webinar

This IOP webinar will look at examples of bottom up approaches to engineering and manufacturing from different sectors including biosensing, electronics and regenerative medicine.

Contact Foresight

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