Those who are actually working towards molecular manufacturing had been compiling a detailed list since 2001 of the work that was still needed to be done to achieve diamondoid molecular manufacturing.
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Since 2001 we have been compiling a growing list of technical challenges to implementation of diamondoid molecular manufacturing and molecular machine systems. This list, which is lengthy but almost certainly incomplete, parallels and incorporates the written concerns expressed in thoughtful commentaries by Philip Moriarty in 2005 and Richard Jones in 2006. We welcome these critiques and would encourage further constructive commentary – and suggestions for additional technical challenges that we may have overlooked – along similar lines by others.
Our list represents a long-term research strategy that serves as a direct response to the recent (2006) call by the NMAB/NRC Review Committee, in their Congressionally-mandated review of the NNI, for proponents of “site-specific chemistry for large-scale manufacturing” to: (1) delineate desirable research directions not already being pursued by the biochemistry community; (2) define and focus on some basic experimental steps that are critical to advancing long-term goals; and (3) outline some “proof-of-principle” studies that, if successful, would provide knowledge or engineering demonstrations of key principles or components with immediate value.
Our current list of technical challenges are organized into the four categories of technical capabilities that we believe are required for the successful achievement of positional diamondoid molecular manufacturing, enabling nanofactory development. This list is currently most extensive in the area of diamond mechanosynthesis (DMS) since DMS has been the primary focus of our earliest efforts leading toward nanofactory implementation.
(I) Technical Challenges for Diamond Mechanosynthesis
(1) Design and simulation of DMS tooltips
(2) Design and simulation of tooltip-workpiece interactions
(3) Design and simulation of tool-tool interactions
(4) Simulation of mechanosynthetic interactions in realistic vacuum environment
(5) Design and simulation of entire DMS reaction sequences
(6) Design and simulation of DMS procedures beyond hydrocarbons
(7) Rearrangement and reconstruction of workpiece surfaces
(8) Design and simulation of molecular feedstock presentation systems for DMS
(1) General design and construction of high-accuracy UHV nanopositioning systems
(2) Challenges specific to DMS nanopositioning systems
(3) Experimental fabrication of DMS tips
(4) Experimental background for DMS
(5) Experimental proof-of-principle and early DMS demonstration benchmarks
(6) DMS parallelization
(7) Availability of natural nanoparts for testing and fabrication
(II) Technical Challenges for Programmable Positional Assembly
(1) Nanopart gripper design
(2) Nanopart manipulator actuator design
(3) Design and simulation of nanopart feedstock presentation systems
(4) Design and simulation of workpiece release surfaces
(5) Design and simulation of nanopart assembly sequences
(6) Atomic rearrangements in juxtaposed nanoparts
(1) Development of SPM technology to enable nanopart assembly work
(2) Fabrication and testing of workpiece release surfaces
(3) Experimental proof-of-principle and early positional assembly demonstration benchmarks
(III) Technical Challenges for Massively Parallel Positional Assembly
(1) Massive parallelization of DMS reactive tooltips and systems
(2) Massive parallelization of nanopart assembly grippers and related systems
(3) Simulation software for massively parallel manufacturing systems
(IV) Technical Challenges for Nanomechanical Design
(1) Establishment of nanoparts libraries
(2) Simulation of nanoparts, nanomachines, and nanomachine operations
(3) Nanofactory design
Brian Wang is a Futurist Thought Leader and a popular Science blogger with 1 million readers per month. His blog Nextbigfuture.com is ranked #1 Science News Blog. It covers many disruptive technology and trends including Space, Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, Medicine, Anti-aging Biotechnology, and Nanotechnology.
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