Kinematic Self-Replicating Machines

© 2004 Robert A. Freitas Jr. and Ralph C. Merkle. All Rights Reserved.

Robert A. Freitas Jr., Ralph C. Merkle, Kinematic Self-Replicating Machines, Landes Bioscience, Georgetown, TX, 2004.


4.9.4 Feynman Grand Prize (Foresight Institute)

In an effort to stimulate scientific and engineering interest in constructing the first nanoassembler, in November 1995 the Foresight Institute (a not-for-profit organization founded by Drexler) created the $250,000 Feynman Grand Prize [2314], with major funding contributed by Zyvex founder James R. von Ehr II and St. Louis venture capitalist Marc E. Arnold. The prize will be awarded to the individual or group that first achieves both of two significant nanotechnology breakthroughs – first, the design and construction of a functional nanometer-scale robotic arm, and second, the design and construction of a functional 8-bit adder computing nanodevice.

According to Grand Prize rules [2314], the robotic nanomanipulator must fit entirely inside a 100-nm cube, carry out actions directed by input signals of specified types, be able to move to a directed sequence of positions anywhere within a 50-nm cube, complete all directed actions with a positioning accuracy of 0.1 nanometer or better, and perform at least 1,000 accurate, nanometer-scale positioning motions per second for at least 60 consecutive seconds. The adder must fit entirely within a 50-nm cube, and must be capable of adding accurately any pair of 8-bit binary numbers, discarding overflow, accepting input signals of specified types, and producing its output as a pattern of raised nanometer-scale bumps on an atomically precise and level surface. (J.S. Hall notes that a conventional 8-bit adder may be constructed using a total of 94 AND, OR, and NOT gates; using XOR gates, the total may be reduced to 37 gates.) Both devices may accept inputs from acoustic, electrical, optical, diffusive chemical, or mechanical means, although any mechanical driving mechanism used for input must be limited to a single linkage that either slides or rotates on a single axis. To demonstrate the capacity for mass-production, at least 32 copies of each device must be provided for analysis and destructive testing by judges. The device does not need to demonstrate self-replication to qualify for the Grand Prize.


Last updated on 1 August 2005