In the late 1950s, Richard Feynman famously imagined a science where researchers and engineers could achieve remarkable feats by manipulating matter and creating structures all the way down to the level of individual atoms.
Now, over fifty years after "There's Plenty of Room at the Bottom," four prominent researchers - David Awschalom, Angela Belcher, Donald Eigler, and Michael Roukes - are sharing their thoughts about the future of nanoscience and nanotechnology. In a special dialogue ahead of a Kavli Futures Symposium on the same topic, the scientists focused on how Feyman's vision may evolve in the next fifty years, beginning with taking nanoscience in an upward direction.
"We've gained some important beachheads in the science, but we've also made very little progress towards translating this toward what we all often speak of as the "full potential" of nanotechnology," said Michael Roukes, professor of physics, applied physics and bioengineering at Caltech and co-director of the Kavli Institute of Nanoscience. "Going forward, I think the challenge is to breach this chasm and actually translate this into stuff that affects our everyday lives. [It will be about] using the building blocks of individual atoms, molecules, individual nanostructures, and assembling them into larger-scale systems with emergent functionality that will be of great use to humankind."
Roukes explained there are many things that are very exciting about being able to control things at the atomic scale and then - from the bottom - "build back to the middle to creating complex systems with just incredibly exquisite control about what these complex systems do. [O]ne area that's absolutely ripe for incredible advances is the life sciences and medicine, where aggregations of individual nanodevices to create nanosystems will allow us to embrace, rather than run away from, the complexity of biological systems."
These advances, stated Roukes, could "give
|Contact: James Cohen|
The Kavli Foundation