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If the more distant promise of 'molecular manufacturing
' is realised, then it is claimed that products may eventually be able to be manufactured from the ground up--atom by atom--to fit precise specifications.
The fact is that no one has yet definitively shown that Drexler's vision of molecular manufacturing using nanoassemblers is impossible.
He suggests that once a country developed the capability for molecular manufacturing using nanoassemblers, it would lose its incentive to trade.There would be no need to trade raw materials because the feedstocks for nanofactories would be derived from ubiquitous substances such as dirt and air.
But those advances have not yet captured the true spirit of nanotechnology or, in particular, of molecular manufacturing, says K.
"In molecular manufacturing, the making of the material and the making of the component [are] one and the same," says Drexler, who helped develop the simulated bearings.
That is the founding vision of nanotechnology, the eventual possibility of exponential general-purpose molecular manufacturing.
--GENERAL-PURPOSE molecular manufacturing: A manufacturing technology that will find many applications across many segments of society.
An early plan for molecular manufacturing
imagined lots of free-floating assemblers working together to build a single massive product, molecule by molecule.
And then finally, when those various techniques and pathways had been refined to the point where the goal of molecular manufacturing
was actually within reach, nanotechnology would appear as a huge and attainable boon; this was premise three.
The Institute awards Feynman prizes each year to recognize researchers - one for theoretical work and one for empirical research - whose recent work has most advanced the field toward the achievement of Feynman's vision for nanotechnology: molecular manufacturing
, the construction of atomically-precise products through the use of molecular machine systems.