Toggling atomic switches and other talks at the Foresight Institute’s 2013 technical conference

The correct title for the conference, which took place almost one year ago (Jan. 11-13, 2013 in Palo Alto, California, US, is the 2013 Foresight Technical Conference: Illuminating Atomic Precision, and the organizers, the Foresight Institute in a Dec. 2, 2013 posting by James Lewis have announced a number of conference videos have been made available and have provided a transcript of sorts for one of the videos,

A select set of videos from the 2013 Foresight Technical Conference: Illuminating Atomic Precision, held January 11-13, 2013 in Palo Alto, have been made available on vimeo. Videos have been posted of those presentations for which the speakers have consented. Other presentations contained confidential information and will not be posted.

Here’s a listing of the 2013 conference presentations made available (click to access the videos),

  • Larry Millstein: Introductory comments at Foresight Technical Conference 2013
  • J. Fraser Stoddart: Introductory comments at Foresight Technical Conference 2013
  • Leonhard Grill: “Assembly and Manipulation of Molecules at the Atomic Scale”
  • John Randall: “Atomically Precise Manufacturing”
  • Philip Moriarty: “Mechanical Atom Manipulation: Towards a Matter Compiler?”
  • David Soloveichik: “DNA Displacement Cascades”
  • Alex Wissner-Gross: “Bringing Computational Programmability to Nanostructured Surfaces”
  • Joseph Puglisi: “Deciphering the Molecular Choreography of Translation”
  • Feynman Awards Banquet at Foresight Technical Conference 2013
  • Gerhard Klimeck: “Multi-Million Atom Simulations for Single Atom Transistor Structures”
  • William Goddard: “Nanoscale Materials, Devices, and Processing Predicted from First Principals” [Note: He’s a wearing a jaunty beret adding a note of style not usually found at technical conferences.]
  • Gerhard Klimeck: “Mythbusting Knowledge Transfer Mechanisms through Science Gateways”
  • Art Olson: “New Methods of Exploring, Analyzing, and Predicting Molecular Interactions”
  • George Church: “Regenesis: Bionano”
  • Dean Astumian: “Microscopic Reversibility: The Organizing Principle for Molecular Machines”
  • Larry Millstein: Closing comments at Foresight Technical Conference 2013

In his Foresight Institute blog posting  Lewis goes on to offer a description of Philip Moriarty’s presentation “Mechanical Atom Manipulation: Towards a Matter Compiler?,”

Prof. Moriarty presented his work with the qPlus technique of non-contact AFM of semiconductors, using chemical forces to mechanically move atoms around to structure matter, focusing on the tip of the probe—specifically how to optimize the tip structure, and how to return the tip to a previously known state. He begins with a brief review of how non-contact AFM uses a damped, driven oscillator to measure and manipulate what is happening at the level of single chemical bonds. The tip at the end of the oscillating cantilever measures the frequency shift of the cantilever as it approaches and interacts with the surface, and it maintains a constant amplitude of oscillation by pumping energy into the system. The frequency shift provides information about conservative forces acting on the tip, and the amount of energy pumped in gives a handle on non-conservative, or dissipative, forces. Before diving into the experimental details of his own work, Prof. Moriarty noted that various experimental accomplishments have vindicated Eric Drexler’s assertion that single atom chemistry could be done using purely mechanical force.

I found this description to be a beautiful piece of technical writing although I do have to admit to being distracted by thoughts of Sherlock Holmes on reading “Prof. Moriarty.” One final note, I noted the reference to Eric Drexler in the last sentence of my excerpt as Drexler was a Foresight Institute founder amongst his many other accomplishments.

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