Can Open source methodology, with its promise of spreading benefits through new varieties of intellectual property, and which has played a major role in software development, also play a role in nanotech development? At least one MIT researcher, Stephen Steiner, thinks so. He is working on a web site for “open source nanotech”. Among other content, software he wrote for controlling nanotube furnaces would be available for download. The following article includes a link to a video from a BBC documentary that shows Steiner showing Michio Kaku how to grow carbon nanotubes. From “Making Nanomaterials Better, Faster And More Accessible” on Wired Science, from Wired.com, written by Loretta Hidalgo Whitesides”

Stephen Steiner wants to make nanotechnology more accessible to speed up the innovation process.

The inclination to think big goes back to Steiner’s teenage years when he vowed to never drive a car as motivation to solve the world’s energy problem. Now 26, he is a graduate student at MIT working to bring the world next-generation nanomaterials, like nanotubes that can make airplane wires lighter than copper, carbon aerogels that use electrolysis to pull hydrogen from water, and as announced yesterday, nanoparticles that can make super high density batteries.

Steiner’s first task at the MIT lab was to get the nanotube furnaces working manually, but he knew that to really get his lab breakthrough-ready, the furnaces needed to be automated. So he wrote a software program that automates a nanotube furnace using natural English syntax and fuzzy logic to help get us there faster.

…Steiner calls the new program “Ansari” after private space explorer and X Prize sponsor Anousheh Ansari. Her work to open up space flight for all inspired Steiner to try to do the same for nanotech. He is working on a website that he calls “open source nanotech,” where people will be able to download his automation software and learn about DIY nanotech.

—Jim