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Home > Resources > Roadmaps > Foresight Roadmap Initiative

Roadmap Background

Foresight sees the creation of technical and policy roadmaps as key to accomplishing a number of objectives in the nanotechnology field. Roadmaps help to coordinate the thinking and activity of key stakeholders including governments, corporations, research institutions, policy professionals, investors, educators and the media. They provide a framework for articulating the pathways and steps which must be taken to progress from the present state of development to a desired future goal. They illuminate what we should be focusing on today and provide an important basis for defining current research and commercialization agendas. The Roadmaps link on the Resources page provides examples of roadmaps from several industries:

Foresight will be creating our own roadmaps, often in conjunction with partners, as well as highlighting roadmaps developed by other groups that are related to nanotechnology.

The first roadmap to be developed by Foresight will be entitled Technology Roadmap for Productive Nanosystems. Both biological examples and analyses based on molecular physics indicate that productive molecular machine systems can enable economical, large-scale fabrication of products built with atomic precision. However, a daunting implementation gap separates the nanostructures of today from the complex productive nanosystems of the future. How can this gap be narrowed and eventually closed? The development of adequate tools to build these systems will require several intermediate stages, each building on the results of the previous stage. Biopolymers (DNA, protein) can provide a basis for the design and fabrication of atomically-precise, self-assembling composite structures — they can form molecular components that bind and organize diverse nanostructures (nanotubes, macromolecules) to form molecular machine systems. This engineering capability will enable the design and fabrication of an initial generation of productive nanosystems. These in turn can be used to build non-biomolecular self-assembling structures, including a more advanced generation of productive nanosystems. Further steps can lead from the production of 1-dimensional polymers to 2- and 3-dimensional covalent structures, from self-assembly to simpler, mechanical construction methods, and from microscopic systems to desktop-scale factories.

This roadmap aims to provide guidance regarding the challenges and opportunities for productive nanosystems, describing strategic objectives for current research and their relationship to long-term goals for advanced nanotechnology. Its scope includes:

  • Current capabilities in design, modeling, fabrication, and testing
  • Overall readiness for developing next-generation productive nanosystems
  • Strategies for developing more advanced systems
  • Potential products of systems at successive levels of development
  • Policy issues raised by productive nanosystems

Announcing the Technology Roadmap for Productive Nanosystems


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