The Potential of Nanotechnology for Molecular Manufacturing
Nanotechnologies are tools that measure and manipulate phenomena and objects at the nanoscale. Molecular manufacturing is the willful use of these two activities to create new objects or phenomena. The question of whether it is possible to achieve a stage in the foreseeable future when molecular manufacturing using nanotechnologies might be viable, and if so how to develop the field, is a point of contention in both scientific and policy circles. A framework for understanding the scope of this topic--possible benefits, development risks, and policy options--is presented, but it is not the intention of the authors to provide a definitive road map for future scientific and technological development; nor is it believed by the authors that such a detailed analysis would at present yield a fully credible road map given the immature nature of the field. Rather, it is the contention of this report that though important breakthroughs have been realized, much significant basic and applied research remains to be undertaken to realistically assess the far-term viability of many of the emerging concepts. However, a careful and objective technology feasibility assessment could help stimulate near-term interim achievements of great merit while preventing technological surprises from foreign players.
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