Center for






Nanotech Scenario Series

Donate Now


 Join the  conversation at CRNtalk!


Current Results of Our Research

These pages, marked with GREEN headings, are published for comment and criticism. These are not our final findings; some of these opinions will probably change.   LOG OF UPDATES 

CRN Research: Overview of Current Findings   

bulletTimeline for Molecular Manufacturing   
bulletProducts of Molecular Manufacturing
bulletBenefits of Molecular Manufacturing
bulletDangers of Molecular Manufacturing  
bulletNo Simple Solutions
bulletAdministration Options
bulletThe Need for Early Development
bulletThe Need for International Development
bulletThirty Essential Nanotechnology Studies
bulletStudy #10     YOU ARE HERE

Thirty Essential Nanotechnology Studies - #10

Overview of all studies: Because of the largely unexpected transformational power of molecular manufacturing, it is urgent to understand the issues raised. To date, there has not been anything approaching an adequate study of these issues. CRN's recommended series of thirty essential studies is organized into five sections, covering fundamental theory, possible technological capabilities, bootstrapping potential, product capabilities, and policy questions. Several preliminary conclusions are stated, and because our understanding points to a crisis, a parallel process of conducting the studies is urged. 

CRN is actively looking for researchers interested in performing or assisting with this work. Please contact CRN Research Director Chris Phoenix if you would like more information or if you have comments on the proposed studies.

Study #10 What will be required to develop nucleic acid manufacturing and products?
  This study will explore the development of nucleic acid manufacturing.

UPDATE: Frank Boehm published an extensive "Investigation of Nucleic Acid/DNA-Based Manufacturing" to the site on March 24, 2005, as a response to this study's question. 

Subquestion What is required (research and software) to automate the design, production, and characterization of nucleic acid molecules directly from specification of shape and properties?
Preliminary answer We are close to this today; see the single-strand octahedron announcement.
Subquestion What actuation techniques (chemical, electrical, other method?) are available? How fast, reliably, forcefully can they operate?
Preliminary answer DNA-conjugation actuation is fairly slow but very programmable. Actuation by redox sliding rings (catenane, rotaxane) is faster and allows either chemical or electrical actuation. This can provide significant (~nN?) force; see the "elevator". Several bio-based motors are being investigated. These are switched by simple chemicals and may be hard to select or control.
Subquestion What chemistry (steric mechanism) could be used to allow programmable fabrication? How small could the selectable units be? (Atoms? Nucleic acid monomers? Short chains?) Can the selected fabrication chemistry produce the required mechanism?
Preliminary answer Good questions...
Subquestion How much additional design would be required to scale up/duplicate a fabrication system for large-scale production?
Preliminary answer The system might be attached to beads for large surface area. This might be more, or less, difficult than scaling up other surface-catalyzed chemical synthesis processes.
Subquestion How much additional design would be required for a scaled-up system to produce monolithic heterogeneous products?
Preliminary answer This might require nanoscale computation to control local actuators, and better attachment, localization, and control of the individual production systems. Biomimetic (e.g. amorphous computing) and mechanistic approaches should both be investigated; very little work has been done to date.
Conclusion This deserves further investigation.
Other studies 1. Is mechanically guided chemistry a viable basis for a manufacturing technology?
2. To what extent is molecular manufacturing counterintuitive and underappreciated in a way that causes underestimation of its importance?
What is the performance and potential of diamondoid machine-phase chemical manufacturing and products?
4. What is the performance and potential of biological programmable manufacturing and products?
5. What is the performance and potential of nucleic acid manufacturing and products?
6. What other chemistries and options should be studied?
What applicable sensing, manipulation, and fabrication tools exist?
8. What will be required to develop diamondoid machine-phase chemical manufacturing and products?
9. What will be required to develop biological programmable manufacturing and products?
11. How rapidly will the cost of development decrease?
12. How could an effective development program be structured?
What is the probable capability of the manufacturing system?
14. How capable will the products be?
15. What will the products cost?
16. How rapidly could products be designed?
Which of today's products will the system make more accessible or cheaper?
18. What new products will the system make accessible?
19. What impact will the system have on production and distribution?
20. What effect will molecular manufacturing have on military and government capability and planning, considering the implications of arms races and unbalanced development?
21. What effect will this have on macro- and microeconomics?
22. How can proliferation and use of nanofactories and their products be limited?
23. What effect will this have on policing?
24. What beneficial or desirable effects could this have?
25. What effect could this have on civil rights and liberties?
26. What are the disaster/disruption scenarios?
27. What effect could this have on geopolitics?
28. What policies toward development of molecular manufacturing does all this suggest?
29. What policies toward administration of molecular manufacturing does all this suggest?
30. How can appropriate policy be made and implemented?
Studies should begin immediately. The situation is extremely urgent. The stakes are unprecedented, and the world is unprepared. The basic findings of these studies should be verified as rapidly as possible (months, not years). Policy preparation and planning for implementation, likely including a crash development program, should begin immediately.

DEVIL'S ADVOCATE Submit your criticism, please!

(Sorry, no one has complained about this page yet, and we couldn't think of anything to write. Please contact us with your questions, criticisms, and other suggestions.)


CRN is a non-profit research and advocacy organization, completely dependent on small grants and individual contributions.


Copyright 2002-2008 Center for Responsible Nanotechnology TM        CRN is an affiliate of World Care, an international, non-profit, 501(c)(3) organization.