The Molecular Foundry

Ant with micro-processor

The first known human application of nano-technology can be seen in the stain glass panels on the churches & cathedrals of medieval Europe. The colors in these windows were achieved by a controlled heating & cooling process that alters the structure of tiny crystals in the glass changing their pigment. Similarly today scientists can reduce materials to their atomic scale causing them to exhibit a different color at varying stages of reduction toward a sub-atomic level. Unlike the medieval artisans however, Scientists can observe this process & control its behavior, allowing them to design materials on a nano scale rather than just discover them by accident.

The ability to construct machines at the sub-atomic level is called nano-technology & as so far removed from the natural world as it seems it actually is not. Nature has been constructing on the nano-scale since time immemorial, as evidenced in the protein assemblies that operate the rotors & engines such as the flagellum of a bacterium or the self assembling actuators of a reptile that has lost one of its limbs. The building principles that are intrinsic to molecular engineering are the very processes by which nature replicates itself.

Photo synthesis & voltaics are efficient reciprocal forms of energy conversion & exchange that allow plants to flourish. Every minute enough sunlight reaches the earth to meet the world’s energy demands for a whole year. This factor is drawing the pursuit of finding a clean perpetual alternative source of energy into the realm of nano-science. Researchers at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratories’ Molecular Foundry are taking nanotechnology out of the realm of theorems & into the world of practical working reality. Researchers in the manufacture of solar panels are replacing heavy expensive & fragile silicon with improvised polymers that behave more like nylon. Researchers are replacing crystalline silicon as the light absorbing material in solar cells &

Molecular gears

replacing it with polymer.

Scientists can design conjugated polymers that exhibit conduction of the electrons to the electrodes by adding side chains to them to make them more soluble; to make them better conductors; that change the energy levels & band gaps of these polymers. Scientists have the ability to control individual molecules to increase efficiency & structural integrity of every single atom that composes the material they are examining as a whole.

The ability to observe & alter things at the atomic & sub-atomic levels has lead to the development of an excess of new materials applications, notwithstanding the construction of working nano-mechanical machines. Combined with the ability to observe this change Scientists are able to control & direct this altered behavior. What was once a simple list of Elements called the periodic table now branches out into new dimensions. A nano-meter is a unit of measure that is 1 billionth of a meter, in engineering this small Scientists have found that everyday materials exhibit characteristics that they otherwise would not in their macro-biotic state. These distorted behaviors have lead to the development of faster computer chips, tiny medical devices that can repair clogged arteries & new filtration systems that eradicate environmental pollutants.

One of the key techniques in creating these distortions is called Quantum Confinement, or the

Medical Nanobot

reduction of a material to the point that electrons are squeezed into a space they are not naturally comfortable with. The smaller you make the Chrystal the higher the electron’s charge will be. Its kinetic energy is increased shortening its wavelength causing it to travel around its space more quickly. In conjunction with this is the relationship between volume & surface & how it determines nano-scale behaviors. Things this small have more on the outside than on the inside, Most of the material is surface allowing more reactions to take place. Although the benefits of nano-technology when applied to environmental problems such as Global Warming, contamination of drinking water, air pollution & so forth are self evident, the technology still has its risks. Some Governments are talking about regulating nano-science by amending their hazardous materials law to include nano-particles. Because nano-scale materials can enter living cells the danger posed to the health of an individual & the natural environment is very real. Scientists are examining the nature of the interaction between new engineered artificial molecular materials & living systems in the hopes of finding ethical applications & programming safe guards into the new technology.

It is by no stretch of the imagination that we can extrapolate on how the materials enhancement applications of Nano-technology can be assimilated into a military soldier augmentation programme. Nano-technology affords the field operative various tools & abilities that could greatly increase the success of mission objectives & decrease the risk of danger to a soldier’s life. Technologies such as nano-reactive muscle propulsion systems could be designed into a soldier’s uniform that speed muscle responses to aid movement in pursuit & capture, & impact during unarmed combat. Nano-fibers could be built into the fabric of the uniform that could not only insulate from the cold & ventilate heat, but could penetrate sub-dermally to heal broken bones & form a thin membrane like a cast around the injury. Carbon fiber nano tubes being fugitive, that is unfixed, could cluster to form a protective casing like a shield to deflect projectiles & prevent the penetration of bullets.


This virtual exo-skeleton made from artificially engineered materials that bend light around 3 dimensional objects & sound suppression technologies, render its wearer invisible to all electrical forms of detection as well as the human eye. With the addition of a headgear unit that encapsulates all the advantages of x-ray, infer-red & night vision, GPS satellite navigation & fractal macro & micro zoom technologies the nano-technologically advanced super soldier surpasses any in military history.


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