Published on October 20, 2008
An Introduction to Nanotechnoloy: The Development and Future of this Revolutionary Science : An Introduction to Nanotechnoloy: The Development and Future of this Revolutionary Science By Allison Starr AE 510 November 9, 2001 What is nanotechnology? : What is nanotechnology? Nanotechnology involves the manipulation of objects on the atomic level. Products will be built with every atom in the right place, allowing materials to be lighter, stronger, smarter, cheaper, cleaner, and more precise. In order for this science to be realized, positional control must be achieved, and self-replication is necessary to reduce costs. Origins of Nanotechnology : Origins of Nanotechnology Richard Feynman first conceived the idea of molecular manufacturing in his 1959 speech, “There’s Plenty of Room at the Bottom.” He is most famous for saying, “The principles of physics, as far as I can see, do not speak against the possibility of maneuvering things atom by atom.” (Ref. 1) Positional Control : Positional Control Positional control will allow atoms to be placed precisely without parts bumping into each other in the wrong way. Eric Drexler, the leading authority on nanotechnology, has proposed a robotic arm to control the placement of atoms. The Stewart platform, which is stiffer and simpler than Drexler’s robotic arm, has also been proposed for positional control. Positional Control Devices : Positional Control Devices Figure 1: Drexler’s Robotic Arm (Ref. 2) Figure 2: The Stewart Platform (Ref. 2) Self Replicating Systems : Self Replicating Systems Self replicating systems were first proposed by John von Neumann in the 1940s. His idea for a self replicating assembler has been used by Drexler to develop a simple system. Figure 3: Drexler’s Architecture for a Self Replicating Assembler (Ref. 2) Applications for Nanotechnology : Applications for Nanotechnology Cost and performance of space travel will be improved significantly. Computers will be more powerful. Weapons will be capable of greater precision and control. Solar energy will provide for the world’s future needs. Surgical tools will be improved. Expert Predictions on Nanotechnology Development : Expert Predictions on Nanotechnology Development From Ref. 3 Conclusions : Conclusions Today’s technology is finally realizing the ideas of von Neumann in the 1940s and Feynman in the late 1950s. With this technology, space travel, computers, weapons, energy production, and medicine will be revolutionized along with many other sciences. Experts predict that nanotechnology will be realized as soon as in the next twenty years. References : References 1. Feynman, Richard P. “There’s Plenty of Room at the Bottom.” Engineering and Science. February 1960. 2. Merkle, Ralph C. “It’s a Small, Small, Small, Small World.” www.zyvex.com/nanotech/MITtecRvwSmlWrld/article.html. 3. Merkle, Ralph C. “Nanotechnology.” www.zyvex.com/nanotech.html.