Introduction to nanorobotics


One vision of a nanoassembler or nanorobot is a device with robotic arms, motors, sensors and computer to

control the behaviour, all at the scale of nanometres. In 1992, the book called “Nanosystem” by Drexler

gives an analysis of the feasibility of machine components for such nanorobots . However, even to

build a molecular motor, researchers have to consider laws of thermodynamics when motors are actually in

operation . Just building a miniature version of an ordinary motor is not adequate. Recently, a

controversy arose surrounding Feynman’s vision of nanorobots. In 2003, an open debate through letters

between K. E. Drexler and R. E. Smalley (who was awarded a Nobel Prize for the discovery of fullerenes)

was presented to public. Smalley was not convinced that such molecular assemblers envisioned by

Drexler are physically possible, while Drexler insists on his previous findings. Certainly, the study of

similarly-sized biological machines – organic cells – suggests there may be more effective alternatives to

Drexler’s nanorobots. Even if nanorobots can be realised, they will not be available in the near future .

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