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Current Results of Our Research

These pages, marked with GREEN headings, are published for comment and criticism. These are not our final findings; some of these opinions will probably change.   LOG OF UPDATES 

CRN Research: Overview of Current Findings   

bulletTimeline for Molecular Manufacturing   
bulletProducts of Molecular Manufacturing
bulletBenefits of Molecular Manufacturing
bulletDangers of Molecular Manufacturing  
bulletNo Simple Solutions
bulletAdministration Options
bulletThe Need for Early Development
bulletThe Need for International Development
bulletThirty Essential Nanotechnology Studies
bulletStudy #14     YOU ARE HERE

Thirty Essential Nanotechnology Studies - #14

Overview of all studies: Because of the largely unexpected transformational power of molecular manufacturing, it is urgent to understand the issues raised. To date, there has not been anything approaching an adequate study of these issues. CRN's recommended series of thirty essential studies is organized into five sections, covering fundamental theory, possible technological capabilities, bootstrapping potential, product capabilities, and policy questions. Several preliminary conclusions are stated, and because our understanding points to a crisis, a parallel process of conducting the studies is urged. 

CRN is actively looking for researchers interested in performing or assisting with this work. Please contact CRN Research Director Chris Phoenix if you would like more information or if you have comments on the proposed studies.

Study #14 How capable will the products be?
  These questions will be answered for products of diamondoid systems based on the Phoenix nanofactory design.
Subquestion What materials will the products be built of?
Preliminary answer 3D carbon lattice: basically, diamond.
Subquestion Does the product functionality include: Digital logic? Analog signal processing? Energy storage, transmission, and transformation? Linear and rotational actuators? Structure, at multiple scales? Kinematics, at multiple scales? Displays? Sensors? Biocompatibility?
Preliminary answer Digital: yes (see Nanosystems).  Analog: probably (physical systems—cams, springs, etc).  Energy storage: atomically precise springs can store energy at near-chemical density. Energy transmission: mechanical looks quite efficient.  Energy transformation: yes, electrical <-> mechanical with very high efficiency and power density.  Actuators: yes, both rotational and solenoid-like.  Structure: from nanometer feature size (1 nm3 = ~176 diamond atoms) (and even individual atoms in certain components, e.g. gear teeth) to macroscale (with convergent assembly).  Kinematics: yes, including near-frictionless rotational and linear bearings.  Displays: yes, mechanical semaphores, maybe semiconductors also.  Sensors: yes, lots.  Biocompatibility: looks good so far.
Subquestion What will be the efficiency of the various product functionalities?
Preliminary answer Excellent; see Nanosystems.  Nanoscale bearings: 10-16 W.  Logic operations: less than kT per (reversible) gate at 1 GHz.
Subquestion How much post-processing does the output need?
Preliminary answer Probably none. Carbon is a very flexible element and the product can include a variety of structure and appearance. See Nanofactory paper section 7.
Subquestion Can the system produce complete products, or only components?
Preliminary answer Complete products.
Subquestion What components of itself can the system produce ('autoproduction')?
Preliminary answer All components.
Subquestion What new capabilities can the products implement? (Machine-phase chemistry? Plasmonic logic?)
Preliminary answer Machine-phase chemistry: yes.  Molecular electronics: Buckytube transistors have been demonstrated.  Optics and plasmonics: seems likely.  Building biomolecules (medicine, food): not without additional R&D.
Subquestion What subset of desirable products can known design methodologies access?
Preliminary answer The nanofactory is well-suited for levels of abstraction (similar to software design). A single 'nanoblock' can contain hundreds or thousands of parts, enough to implement general-purpose behavior (motor, computer, etc). The combination of these into systems, 'smart materials', and products appears to encompass most conceivable functionality at all scales above 100 nm. Smaller functions such as molecular manipulation would have to be individually designed, though this may be straightforward for many tasks.
Conclusion The output of the nanofactory would be fully finished and highly advanced products.
Other studies 1. Is mechanically guided chemistry a viable basis for a manufacturing technology?
2. To what extent is molecular manufacturing counterintuitive and underappreciated in a way that causes underestimation of its importance?
What is the performance and potential of diamondoid machine-phase chemical manufacturing and products?
4. What is the performance and potential of biological programmable manufacturing and products?
5. What is the performance and potential of nucleic acid manufacturing and products?
6. What other chemistries and options should be studied?
What applicable sensing, manipulation, and fabrication tools exist?
8. What will be required to develop diamondoid machine-phase chemical manufacturing and products?
9. What will be required to develop biological programmable manufacturing and products?
10. What will be required to develop nucleic acid manufacturing and products?
11. How rapidly will the cost of development decrease?
12. How could an effective development program be structured?
What is the probable capability of the manufacturing system?
15. What will the products cost?
16. How rapidly could products be designed?
Which of today's products will the system make more accessible or cheaper?
18. What new products will the system make accessible?
19. What impact will the system have on production and distribution?
20. What effect will molecular manufacturing have on military and government capability and planning, considering the implications of arms races and unbalanced development?
21. What effect will this have on macro- and microeconomics?
22. How can proliferation and use of nanofactories and their products be limited?
23. What effect will this have on policing?
24. What beneficial or desirable effects could this have?
25. What effect could this have on civil rights and liberties?
26. What are the disaster/disruption scenarios?
27. What effect could this have on geopolitics?
28. What policies toward development of molecular manufacturing does all this suggest?
29. What policies toward administration of molecular manufacturing does all this suggest?
30. How can appropriate policy be made and implemented?
Studies should begin immediately. The situation is extremely urgent. The stakes are unprecedented, and the world is unprepared. The basic findings of these studies should be verified as rapidly as possible (months, not years). Policy preparation and planning for implementation, likely including a crash development program, should begin immediately.

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