The winner of the 2009 Feynman Prize for Theory is Robert A. Freitas Jr. (IMM), in recognition of his pioneering theoretical work in mechanosynthesis in which he proposed specific molecular tools and analyzed them using ab initio quantum chemistry to validate their ability to build complex molecular structures. This Prize also recognizes his previous work in systems design of molecular machines, including replicating molecular manufacturing systems which should eventually be able to make large atomically precise products economically and the design of medical nanodevices which should eventually revolutionize medicine. The Foresight Institute, a nanotechnology education and public policy think tank based in Palo Alto awards the Feynman Prizes.
The winner of the 2009 Feynman Prize for Experimental work is the team of Yoshiaki Sugimoto, Masayuki Abe (Osaka University), and Oscar Custance (National Institute for Materials Science, Japan), in recognition of their pioneering experimental demonstrations of mechanosynthesis, specifically the use of atomic resolution dynamic force microscopy — also known as non-contact atomic force microscopy (NC-AFM) — for vertical and lateral manipulation of single atoms on semiconductor surfaces. Their work, published in Nature, Science, and other prestigious scientific journals, has demonstrated a level of control over the ability to identify and position atoms on surfaces at room temperature which opens up new possibilities for the manufacture of atomically precise structures.
Congratulations to the winners. Below is the latest work from Robert Freitas.
Recent Nanotechnology and Nanomedicine Publications by Robert Freitas
Robert A. Freitas Jr., “Chapter 22. Comprehensive Nanorobotic Control of Human Morbidity and Aging,” in Gregory M. Fahy, Michael D. West, L. Stephen Coles, and Steven B. Harris, eds, The Future of Aging: Pathways to Human Life Extension, Springer, New York, 2009. In press.
Denis Tarasov, Natalia Akberova, Ekaterina Izotova, Diana Alisheva, Maksim Astafiev, Robert A. Freitas Jr., “Optimal Tooltip Trajectories in a Hydrogen Abstraction Tool Recharge Reaction Sequence for Positionally Controlled Diamond Mechanosynthesis,” J. Comput. Theor. Nanosci. 6(2009). In press.
Robert A. Freitas Jr., “Medical Nanorobotics: The Long-Term Goal for Nanomedicine,” in Mark J. Schulz, Vesselin N. Shanov, YeoHeung Yun, eds., Nanomedicine Science and Engineering, Artech House, Norwood MA, 2009, Chapter 14, pp. 367-392. In press.
A chapter describing the negative consequences of medical technology development and commercialization that is too slow, and makes the case for an immediate large scale investment in medical nanorobots to save 52 million lives a year. It also explains the essence of nanotechnology, its life-saving applications, the engineering challenges, and the possibility of 1000-fold improvement over our current human biological abilities. Every decade that we delay development and commercialization of medical nanorobotics, half a billion people perish who could have been saved.
The power available to microscopic robots (nanorobots) that oxidize bloodstream glucose while aggregated in circumferential rings on capillary walls is evaluated with a numerical model using axial symmetry and time-averaged release of oxygen from passing red blood cells. Robots about one micron in size can produce up to several tens of picowatts, in steady-state, if they fully use oxygen reaching their surface from the blood plasma. Robots with pumps and tanks for onboard oxygen storage could collect oxygen to support burst power demands two to three orders of magnitude larger. We evaluate effects of oxygen depletion and local heating on surrounding tissue. These results give the power constraints when robots rely entirely on ambient available oxygen and identify aspects of the robot design significantly affecting available power. More generally, our numerical model provides an approach to evaluating robot design choices for nanomedicine treatments in and near capillaries.
The technologies that are needed for the atomically precise fabrication of diamondoid nanorobots in macroscale quantities at low cost require the development of a new nanoscale manufacturing technology called positional diamondoid molecular manufacturing, enabling diamondoid nanofactories that can build nanorobots. Achieving this new technology will require the significant further development of four closely related technical capabilities: (1) diamond mechanosynthesis (2) programmable positional assembly (3) massively parallel positional assembly1 and (4) nanomechanical design. The Nanofactory Collaboration is coordinating a combined experimental and theoretical effort involving direct collaboration among dozens of researchers at multiple institutions in four countries to explore the feasibility of positionally controlled mechanosynthesis of diamondoid structures using simple molecular feedstocks, which is the first step along a direct pathway to developing working nanofactories that can fabricate diamondoid medical nanorobots.
Medical nanorobots may be constructed of diamondoid nanometer-scale parts
and subsystems including onboard sensors, motors, manipulators, power plants,
and molecular computers. The presence of onboard nanocomputers will allow
in vivo medical nanorobots to perform numerous complex behaviors which must
be conditionally executed on at least a semiautonomous basis, guided by receipt of
local sensor data, constrained by preprogrammed settings, activity scripts, and
event clocking, and further limited by a variety of simultaneously executing realtime
Such nanorobots cannot yet be manufactured, but preliminary scaling studies
for several classes of medical nanorobots including respirocytes, microbivores,
clottocytes and chromallocytes have been published in the literature. These
designs allow an analysis of basic computational tasks and a summation of major
computational control functions common to all complex medical nanorobots.
These functions include the control and management of pumping, sensing,
configuration, energy, communication, navigation, manipulation, locomotion,
computation, and the use of redundancy management and flawless compact
Nanorobot control protocols are required to ensure that each nanorobot
completes its intended mission accurately, completely, safely, and in a timely
manner according to plan. Six major classes of nanorobot control protocols have
been identified and include operational, biocompatibility, theater, safety, security,
and group protocols. Six important subclasses of theater protocols include locational, functional, situational, phenotypic, temporal, and identity control
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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