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Nanofactories – a future vision

Nanotechnology scientists are developing materials which mimic nature. Photograph: Science Photo Library

Molecular nanotechnology could allow us to build the products we need with the sort of precision that right now only nature can do

Penny Sarchet: Mimicking nature is a recurring theme in nanotechnology and molecular nanotechnology, inspired by the natural nanostructures found in our own bodies, offers many exciting potential outcomes.

“Molecular nanotechnology is the expected ability to build our products with molecular-level precision, as nature can do,” says Christine Peterson, president of the Foresight Nanotech Institute in California. “It will bring unprecedented quality, energy efficiency and environmental sustainability”.

The recent development of an electron-powered molecular “nanocar”, by a team led by chemist Ben Feringa at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands, hints at the potential. Further indications that molecular nanotechnology is achievable are being found in the quest for ever-smaller computing.

Many of these efforts attempt to use nature’s own method of storing and transferring information – DNA. “DNA computing is the goal of building devices out of DNA that are able to act like computers, initially doing simple calculations but eventually doing everything that a macroscale computer can do,” says Peterson. Continue HERE

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