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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 #3     YOU ARE HERE

Thirty Essential Nanotechnology Studies - #3

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 #3 What is the performance and potential of diamondoid machine-phase chemical manufacturing and products?
  Diamondoid molecular manufacturing systems were described and analyzed in some detail in Nanosystems. These systems would do scanning-probe chemistry in vacuum to build diamondoid machine parts, including bearings, motors, cams, and scanning probe systems.
Subquestion Can a simple set of chemical cycles be developed to process simple feedstock molecules into renewable chemical 'tool tips' suitable for deposition fabrication?
Preliminary answer Refer to Merkle's study on "Hydrocarbon Metabolism". Preliminary investigation says the answer is: probably.
Subquestion Can a simple set of deposition reactions be developed to build programmable diamondoid parts with the 'tool tips'?
Preliminary answer Freitas and Merkle report that they have found one, and think that six to ten are necessary; see their Foresight proposal. Experience based on computational chemistry investigation says the answer is: yes.
Subquestion Can diamondoid parts be combined into machines that can manipulate 'tool tips' with the required precision, as well as supplying components for other types of products?
Preliminary answer Based on Drexler's Nanosystems, it appears that the answer is: yes, diamondoid (3D carbon-based solid) is a great material for nanoscale machines, is stiff enough to achieve sub-angstrom precision at room temperature (with careful design), and also makes great bearings, motors, etc.
Subquestion What would be the performance of nanostructured, atomically precise diamond machines, including strength, power handling, and digital logic?
Preliminary answer According to Nanosystems: 100 times as strong as steel, 1015 W/m3 electromechanical power conversion (108 increase in power density?), 1016 instructions/sec/W (106 increase in computer power?), 104 sec to double manufacturing capital.
Subquestion Can nanoscale fabricators be combined into an efficient scalable manufacturing system to build large products?
Preliminary answer Based on Phoenix's nanofactory paper, it should be straightforward to build an integrated tabletop manufacturing system producing kg-scale products (not just kg's of mg-scale products) at kg/hour rates. The basic architecture should scale quite a bit larger than that without sacrificing much efficiency. This work builds on Nanosystems and Merkle's work, and shows that a much simpler design should come within an order of magnitude of Drexler's performance numbers (though Drexler's numbers may themselves be a substantial underestimate).
Subquestion How difficult will product design be?
Preliminary answer Once basic 5-50 nm molecular components are designed and characterized, they can be combined to make a vast range of products without further molecular design. Software engineering methods will help, including modular design and levels of abstraction. Reliability will be an issue but should be solvable by simple redundancy. Above the molecular scale, products should not be much harder to design than familiar products of similar complexity. (Note that complexity of large products can often be reduced substantially by duplication of simple designs.) One factor that should make design easier is the ability to build cheap prototypes rapidly.
Conclusion Diamond machine-phase manufacturing has the potential to be an extremely powerful technology.
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?
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?
14. How capable will the products be?
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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