David Kirkpatrick

January 8, 2010

Eric Drexler on the NRC’s molecular manufacturing recommendation

Drexler is widely seen as as one of, if not the, father of nanotechnology, and two of his books, “Nanosystems: Molecular Machinery, Manufacturing, and Computation” and “Engines of Creation: The Coming Era of Nanotechnology”  are considered seminal works in the field.

This post from his blog, Metamodern, is about the National Research Council study on molecular manufacturing and Drexler himself describes this post as “arguably the most important post of the series, or of this blog to date.”

Here’s the first few graphs from the link:

A formal, Federal-level study has examined the physical principles ofhigh-throughput atomically precise manufacturing (aka molecular manufacturing), assessing its feasibility and closing with a call for experimental research.

Surprisingly, this recommendation smacks of heresy in some circles, and the very idea of examining the subjectmet strong opposition.

The process in outline: Congress voted to direct the U.S. National Research Council, the working arm of the U.S. National Academies, to conduct, as part of the lengthy Triennial Review of the National Nanotechnology Initiative, what in the House version had been described as a “Study on molecular manufacturing…to determine the technical feasibility of the manufacture of materials and devices at the molecular scale”, and in response, the NRC convened a study committee that organized a workshop, examined the literature, deliberated, and reported their conclusions, recommending appropriate research directions for moving the field forward, including experimental research directed toward development of molecular manufacturing.

(Hat tip: Next Big Future)