In Nanosystems, Dr. K. Eric Drexler describes a range of molecular machines based on stiff, easily-modeled covalent structures. Construction of such machines will require programmable molecular assemblers (or special-purpose molecular mills) able to position reactive molecules with atomic precision, guiding chemical reactions to build up complex structures. Thus, such machines are beyond the reach of today’s laboratory synthesis capabilities, though within reach of today’s computational modeling techniques.
Several devices, such as bearings and gears composed of several thousand atoms, have been specified in atomic detail. Proposals for larger devices, such as sorting rotors and robotic arms, are (like macroscopic machine systems) described at lower resolution.
Some atomically detailed designs include:
- A pump selective for neon
- A molecular differential gear
- A fine-motion controller for molecular assembly
Ralph Merkle has assembled a page of high resolution images of proposed molecular devices.
New designs using NanoEngineer are available in the NanoRex galleries.
Designs for molecular machine parts, produced by K. Eric Drexler, or by K. Eric Drexler and Ralph C. Merkle, that appear on the Web sites of the Foresight Institute and the Institute for Molecular Manufacturing (IMM) are copyrighted by IMM. It is not necessary to obtain permission to use IMM-copyrighted images for either commercial or non-commercial purposes. Permission to use the images is granted on the condition that credit is given and our copyright notice appears in the publication. Images should also contain the URL for IMM (www.imm.org).