Diamonds and Nano
The present speaker is Robert Freitas (pronounced FRAY-tuss), who is with the Institute for Molecular Manufacturing. (His homepage is here, his abstract is here.) He is another one of the Big Names of the nanotechworld: he's the author of the Nanomedicine book series.
His presentation -- a full, and very rapid, and very intense half hour -- was about diamondoid mechanosynthesis. That is, using carbon and diamond molecules to build things. He laid out an incremental approach that would make it possible, and added, in his last few minutes, that each step in the process could be profitable. In fact, one early thing that might be done with the technology would be a stunt akin to the famous PR coup from IBM physicists in 1989 (published in 1990) when they spelled out their corporate logo using 35 individual atoms of xenon. Here's what Freitas jokingly suggests:
Seriously, though, the bottom line of Freitas's talk was to "demolish," as one expert tells me, the arguments about the precise placement of atoms put forward by Nobel laureate Richard Smalley, co-discoverer of buckyballs, who has been involved in a very public spat over the feasibility of molecular manufacturing.
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