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A nanoengine 100 times more powerful than known nanomotors

Foresight Update 29.04—June 27, 2016
ISSN 1078-9731

Nanotech News

Discuss these news stories on Foresight’s Facebook page or on our Facebook group.

In this issue:

Simulation of quantum entanglement with subsurface dopant atoms

Based on their success reported here four years ago of creating a working transistor from a single atom placed in a silicon crystal with atomic precision, researchers from the University of New South Wales and the University of Melbourne in Australia, and from Purdue University in the US, have created a quantum simulator with dopant atoms placed in silicon with atomic precision. …

Protein design provides a novel metabolic path for carbon fixation

More evidence that computational protein design can create not only novel proteins but also novel functions that do not exist in nature comes from the creation of an entire novel metabolic pathway. A large collaboration involving scientists from the University of California, Davis, two research groups at the University of Washington (including the lab of David Baker, who shared the 2004 Foresight Institute Feynman Prize for theoretical work), the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, and several other institutions in California and Israel published a paper last year in PNAS “Computational protein design enables a novel one-carbon assimilation pathway” that describes a novel computationally designed enzyme they designate “formolase” that catalyzes the carboligation of three one-carbon formaldehyde molecules into one three-carbon dihydroxy acetone molecule. This complex project comprised many steps to create three novel enzyme functions, not previously known, in the process creating a microbial metabolic pathway that could be further optimized for enhanced production of desired products. …

Powerful nanoengine built from coated nanoparticles

Discussions of complex molecular machine systems or nanorobots navigating through water frequently raise the issue of whether nanoscale engines can be powerful enough. Scientists at UK’s Cavendish Laboratory have provided one response. …

Researchers have developed the world’s tiniest engine – just a few billionths of a metre in size – which uses light to power itself. The nanoscale engine, developed by researchers at the University of Cambridge, could form the basis of future nano-machines that can navigate in water, sense the environment around them, or even enter living cells to fight disease. …

Foresight Co-Founder to speak on altruism, nanotechnology

Foresight Co-Founder Christine Peterson will speak on “High-Leverage Altruism” at Effective Altruism Global 2016, August 5-7, 2016, Berkeley, California. This is the fourth annual conference of Effective Altruism, “a growing community based on using reason and evidence to improve the world as much as possible. This year, around 1000 attendees and over 50 speakers from around the world are expected to attend.” …

Peterson will also speak on nanotechnology a few weeks later at the Singularity University Global Summit, August 28-30, 2016, San Francisco, California. SU Global Summit is the definitive gathering for those who understand the critical importance of exponential technologies, the impact they’ll have on the future of humanity, and the disruption these technologies will cause across all industries. …”

Foresight President spoke on Artificial Intelligence

The TEDxEchoPark “Paradigm Shift” event on Saturday May 14, 2016, in Los Angeles, California, “examined the most intriguing Paradigm Shifts unraveling in every field; from artificial intelligence to education, from branding to sexuality, from food to consciousness and many more. …” Foresight President Julia Bossmann spoke on Artificial Intelligence: … She has spoken at the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting in Davos on the role of Artificial Intelligence in the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

Triple helices stabilize macroscopic crystals for DNA nanotechnology

To self-assemble macroscopic, porous DNA crystals suitable for use as structural scaffolds or molecular sieves, it was first necessary to show that macroscopic crystals could be self-assembled from atomically precise DNA nanostructures, and then to show that triple helix forming oligo nucleotides could target cargo molecules to each cavity in the crystal with sub-nanometer precision. A paper published last year from Prof. Chengde Mao of Purdue University and Prof. Nadrian C Seeman of New York University, and their collaborators tackles and resolves conflicting requirements for successful self-assembly. The component nanostructures must attach to each other using interactions that are weak enough that a building block in an incorrect site can detach, but strong enough that the final structure is stable. …

DNA triplex formation decorates DNA crystals with sub-nanometer precision

Our previous post focused on the production of high quality macroscopic DNA crystals containing fairly large (on a molecular scale) cavities. This post deals with the challenge of precisely filling those cavities with guest molecules or nanoparticles. In 2014 Seeman and his collaborators reported using triplex forming oligonucleotides to programmably position guest components on the double-helical edges of the tensegrity triangles comprising the crystal: “Functionalizing Designer DNA Crystals with a Triple-Helical Veneer” [OPEN ACCESS]. Citing their earlier work reporting crystals with cavities exceeding 1000 nm3, the authors propose introducing guest molecules into these cavities by targeting a DNA sequence within the tile comprising the crystal, using triplex-forming oligonucleotides that bind in a sequence specific fashion to the major groove of the DNA double helix by forming base triplets. …

Macroscopic DNA crystals from molecular tensegrity triangles

… [Structural DNA nanotechnology originated from Nadrian Seeman’s 1985 suggestion] that ligation of DNA branched junction building blocks could lead to a periodic array, analogous to the crystallization of molecular systems.

Three papers by Seeman and his collaborators published the last several years (2009, 2014, 2015) highlight progress toward Seeman’s original vision of a practical macroscopic DNA crystal array with cavities that are large on the molecular scale and could be used to precisely order molecular components in three dimensions. This post considers the earliest of these. The first step from concept to reality is explained by the title of the article “From molecular to macroscopic via the rational design of a self-assembled 3D DNA crystal“. …

—Nanodot posts by James Lewis

Foresight Events and News

Nominations are now open for the 2016 Foresight Prizes

Nominations for the 2016 Foresight Institute Feynman Prizes: Experiment and Theory are due on August 22, 2016. Winners will be announced by October 2016.

Nominations for the 2016 Distinguished Student Award are due on August 22, 2016. Winner will be announced by October 2016.

Winners announced for the 2015 Foresight Prizes

The winner of the 2015 Feynman Prizes, Theory is Prof. Markus J. Buehler, Department Head and McAfee Professor of Engineering, Civil and Environmental Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The winner of the 2015 Feynman Prizes, Experimental is Prof. Michelle Y. Simmons FAA, Australian Research Council (ARC) Laureate Fellow & Director, ARC Centre of Excellence in Quantum Computation and Communications Technology. More …

The 2015 Distinguished Student Award winner is Chuyang Cheng, a PhD student with Professor Fraser Stoddart in the Chemistry Department at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois. More …

The Feynman Prize winners and the Distinguished Student Award winner were announced at an Awards banquet May 21, 2016 at the Foresight Institute Breakthrough Technologies for Energy workshop.

New Foresight Institute Breakthrough Technologies for Energy Workshop

Atomic Precision for Energy Generation, Transmission, and Use Reduction
May 20-22 2016 in Palo Alto, California

This was a highly interactive and stimulating 2-1/2 day invitational meeting focused on long-term prospects for revolutionary advances in energy based on improved precision in our control of matter, and how to speed current research in that direction.

Information about the workshop will not be made public until a few months after the event. For information about the earlier workshops in this series, see Foresight Institute's 2014 Workshop on Directed/Programmable Matter for Energy and Foresight Institute's 2015 Workshop on Atomic Precision for Medical Applications.

White papers now available from Foresight’s workshops

Directed/Programmable Matter for Energy, Sept. 5-7, 2014 Video
White paper: Directed Programmable Matter for Energy Applications: Insights, analysis and implications for society

Atomic Precision for Medical Applications, May 29-31, 2015 Video
White paper: Foresight Institute's Workshop On Atomic Precision For Medical Applications

Foresight Lectures

May 14, 2016 Los Angeles, California
TEDxEchoPark Presents "Paradigm Shift"
Foresight Institute President Julia Bossmann spoke on AI. Foresight Institute is the leading think tank on world-changing technologies such as nanotechnology and artificial intelligence (AI). Bossmann holds a Masters degree with highest honors in brain & behavioral sciences from the University of Dusseldorf and USC. Her professional experience includes scientific research in labs in Germany and in the USA, management consulting at McKinsey & Company, R&D at Bosch Research and Technology, and entrepreneurship at Anticip8 Analytics. Bossmann is a GSP alumna at Singularity University and a Global Shaper at the World Economic Forum. She has spoken at the World Economic Forum's annual meeting in Davos on the role of Artificial Intelligence in the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

August 5-7, 2016 Berkeley, California
Effective Altruism Global 2016
Foresight Co-Founder Christine Peterson to speak on "High-Leverage Altruism" at the fourth annual conference of Effective Altruism, "a growing community based on using reason and evidence to improve the world as much as possible. This year, around 1000 attendees and over 50 speakers from around the world are expected to attend." Featured topics include "CRISPR: Can and should we use it to end malaria?", "How will philanthropy shape the development of breakthrough technologies?", "Can we end global poverty within a generation? How?", "Risks and benefit of advanced AI", and "Replacing meat, reducing suffering". EA Global 2016 is organized by the Effective Altruists of Berkeley in collaboration with the Centre for Effective Altruism. For more information on what Effective Altruism is, visit or

August 28-30, 2016 San Francisco, California
Singularity University Global Summit
Foresight Co-Founder Christine Peterson will speak on nanotechnology at the Singularity University Global Summit. SU Global Summit is the definitive gathering for those who understand the critical importance of exponential technologies, the impact they'll have on the future of humanity, and the disruption these technologies will cause across all industries. Other speakers include Peter Diamandis, Ray Kurzweil, and Melanie Swan; an unconference component is included as well.

Christine Peterson works to promote rapid and safe advances in the fields of nanotechnology, machine intelligence, human healthspan, space settlement, and open source. She is Co-founder of Foresight Institute, the leading public interest group focused on atomically-precise nanotechnology and its beneficial applications, particularly in energy and medicine. At Foresight, she organizes high-performance interactive workshops for researchers and directs the Foresight Institute Feynman Prizes in Nanotechnology, both aimed to advance scientific progress toward molecular machine systems. Christine advises the Machine Intelligence Research Institute, the National Space Society, and nanotech startup Ligandal Inc. She chairs the Personalized Life Extension Conference series focused on near-term techniques to extend human healthspan. She is credited with coining the term "open source software.' Her best-known quote: 'If you're looking ahead long-term, and what you see looks like science fiction, it might be wrong. But if it doesn't look like science fiction, it's definitely wrong.'

If you do attend either of these meetings, Christine asks that you stop by and say hello!

About the Foresight Institute
Foreseeing Future Technologies

Advancements in technologies such as nanotech, robotics, artificial intelligence, 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.

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