Nanotechnology Grand Challenge Events Called For

We've all had fun watching the recent Grand Challenge race run by DARPA (see the Ghost Rider Robot) article on this site).

Let's help DARPA set up the nanotechnology Grand Challenge for very small vehicles (or other challenges - see below).

Update 15-Nov-2006: Finally, after two years, a response to this article. Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies Chief Science Advisor Andrew Maynard has set five challenges to "stimulate research that is imaginative, innovative, timely and above all relevant to the safety of nanotechnology." They include the development of:

  • instruments to assess environmental exposure to nanomaterials,
  • methods to evaluate the toxicity of nanomaterials,
  • models for predicting the potential impact of new, engineered nanomaterials,
  • ways of evaluating the impact of nanomaterials across their life cycle, and
  • strategic programs to enable risk-focused research.
End Update

The National Nanotechnology Initiative website (created and maintained by the US government) has officially classified nanobots as "science fiction" (see embryonic robots from Philip K. Dick's 1967 novel Counter Clock World for a taste).

However, just in case, the site nanotechnology FAQ adds "laboratories are closely monitored and research is peer-reviewed. Research funding is withheld from less-than-worthy projects and from those with questionable credentials or reputation."

Here are the Nine Nanotechnology Grand Challenges:

    1. Nanostructured Materials by Design
    2. Manufacturing at the Nanoscale
    3. Chemical-Biological-Radiological-Explosive Detection, and Protection
    4. Nanoscale Instrumentation, and Metrology
    5. Nano-Electronics, -Photonics, and -Magnetics
    6. Healthcare, Therapeutics, and Diagnostics
    7. Efficient Energy Conversion and Storage
    8. Microcraft and Robotics
    9. Nanoscale Processes for Environmental Improvement
Please submit your suggestions for nanobot races (or other nanotech challenges) on our contact page. I'll publish as many as I can; don't forget to leave a name, email and URL if you'd like some recognition.

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