General Introduction to atomically precise manufacturing

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What, Why, How, When

For a more graphical (less outdated) introduction go back to this wiki's Main Page.

What is atomically precise manufacturing (APM)

The Goal - advanced Diamondoid Atomically Precise Manufacturing - Gemstone Metamaterial Technology

Advanced Atomically precise manufacturing (APM) is a prospective method of production for material goods of all sizes.
The products of this manufacturing method consist out of atomically precise parts. These constituent parts like e.g. bearings gears springs and housing structures have the smallest possible physical size that allows for their functioning. When assembled the systems they create strikingly resemble conventional factory-equipment that one finds at the meter scale but on the meter scale those new kind of clearly non biological products may well be designed to be smooth elastic and seamless a trait only biological matter illustrates today. In contrast to atomic scale biological systems those artificial atomically precise systems do not rely on thermal movement for their function, instead they operate in the machine phase. Out of various reasons silicon, diamond and similar substances are suitable building materials. All of the parts have their surfaces chemically plugged (passivated). Passivated surfaces do not bind to one another (not covalently to be exact). When the parts are aligned such that their atomic roughness can't intermesh they slide on each other wear free and superlubricating.

With exploratory engineering it was shown [1] that products of advanced atomically precise manufacturing will perform better than most products out of materials known today and due to the decentral (at home / locally) and direct (raw material to product in one step) characteristics of the manufacturing process there is also reason to assume that AP products will be cheap in production. Combined those properties may lead to drastic changes in human civilization over a short period of time giving us an opportunity to rapidly solve yet untacklable global problems but also presenting us to new kinds of dangers.

The technical details about the targeted kind of technology can be found in the book Nanosystems [1]. It contains details about math physics and chemistry behind those machines. Among other things there is explained why quantum uncertainty is not really a problem, why thermal movement is a solvable challenge and why knowledge about natural solution phase chemistry is not directly applicable to chemical synthesis in the machine phase (mechanosynthesis).

Atomically Precise Manufacturing in general

What also counts to atomically precise manufacturing are areas where less stiff structures are used:

  • many processes in biological life (it is actually is the only kind of massively happening atomically precise manufacturing today). This is not what this wiki is going to be about!
  • the early development phase towards diamondoid (gemstone-like) systems - (veering heavily away from the typical characteristics of life)
  • excluded is thermodynamic crystal growth - the exact number of atoms and surfaces shapes can not be precisely controlled (exception: atomically precise nanoparticles)

Biological life is doing atomically precise manufacturing since it has emerged (albeit barely with positional atomic precision). It provides direct examples for the feasibility for some things (floppy soft diffusion based systems out of chain molecules). It does not provide direct examples for the feasibility of the targeted things (stiff diamondoid diffusion suppressing systems out of crystolecule machine parts) but it at least gives a hint that it is maybe worth to investigate them. Doing so (with the means of exploratory engineering) unravels that there is potential far beyond the limits of biological systems. There are several reasons why evolution couldn't reach and will not reach this superior systems. There are pretty certainly no small evolutionary steps capable of shunning diffusion transport all together and directly moving into a practically perfect vacuum. But how can it be so different? The really good new technology usually learns from nature from the deeper lying more fundamental less intermingled aspects and not from the more superficial obvious aspects. This leads to quite different solutions as can be seen with e.g. the bicycle and the air-plane.

Why do we need APM?

See main article: Reasons for APM

How do we build a personal fabricator?

Technology levels of the incremental path
Level 0 side products
Level I side products
Level II side products
Level III pre-products

There are two approaches:

There is a some discussion about the perception of APM related work due to the people promoting the direct path - see: pathway controversy. This dates back to a dispute over the "ownership" over the very generic word "nanotechnology". This dispute led to a temporarily loss of publicly perceived credibility & funding of anything related to APM - see: history. Further the term atomically precise manufacturing way introduced by Eric Drexler to have a more specific name for the technology described on this wiki.

How long will it take us to get there?

See main article: Time till advanced APM

What this site is for?

For the aims of this wiki see main article: Goals of this wiki

Contact / Contribution

Update: 2015-09-28 - The sites admin (I Lukas M. Süss aka mechadense) has decided to close the wiki for individual editing for now.
If you want to see something here that should be added or changed you can either contact me directly or discuss it with me on the sci-nanotech forum.

If you want to make backups or a fork of the whole thing please contact me. That would be great :) You can find the contact information on the about page.
If I do not hit the hosting service providers dead man's switch once a month this wiki will vanish! - Don't know how long I'll still be around.

Reasons for closing:
The amount the site has grown - even with a very good Sitemap documentation - newcomers would probably mess up this wikis structure by now. The attainment of the knowledge about the fate of the (see: Other sites)

  • Pages where growing out of bounds since the concerns wherent seperated well. As a result things were repeated over and over again. That is precisely what a wiki should prevent from happening by providing hyper-linking.
  • The topics where missing what really matters most - identifying the points where concrete investigations are needed. (well, to be fair that was not the focus of the - "facts and implications" where)
  • Also almost no illustrations where made - those are essential.

Old: Please read the guidelines on the community portal before contributing.
Note: When contributing here please avoid using the term nanotechnology and use more precise and specific terms (APM related terms) instead.
History has led to the fact that "nanotechnology" now (2013..2015) almost exclusively links to non atomically precise technologies or products of SciFi fantasy. The term "nanotechnology" is as specific as the term "makrotechnology" that is rarely used because of its generality.


  1. 1.0 1.1 Nanosystems: Molecular Machinery, Manufacturing, and Computation - by K. Eric Drexler