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Home > Nanotechnology Columns > Brian Wang > Progress in technology that will be enabling the development of Molecular Manufacturing

Brian Wang
Z1 Consulting

There are new FPGA computers and GPGPUs that can accelerate molecular modeling software by up to 1000 times. Attention should be paid to these computational developments and new tools. They should be leveraged to accelerate molecular manufacturing research.

September 20th, 2007

Progress in technology that will be enabling the development of Molecular Manufacturing

Diamond Mechanosynthesis now has a computationally proven toolset of 9 molecular tooltips designed by Robert Freitas and Ralph Merkle.

Robert A. Freitas Jr., Ralph C. Merkle, "A Minimal Toolset for Positional Diamond Mechanosynthesis," J. Comput. Theor. Nanosci. 4(2007). In press. (Provisional patent application submitted on 7 September 2007.)

This study and a prior studies

had hundreds of thousands of CPU hours and actual hours devoted to developing the calculations.

There are new FPGA computers, co-processors and General Purpose GPU processors that are accelerating molecular modeling software by 100 to 1000 times.

SGI makes an FPGA supercomputer from off the shelf parts that is 900 times faster than a 68 Opteron cluster machine.

FPGA processing accelerators have been developed. Warp processing" gives a computer chip the ability to improve its performance (up to 1000 times) over time.

AMD's FireStream 9170 chipset includes 660 million transistors and 320 processing units and will be made by chipmaker TSMC. The FireStream 9170 is a step on the way to AMD's Fusion project, which the company says will combine a graphics processor and general processor on the same piece of silicon. AMD hopes to release Fusion in 2009. It is similar to the Nvidia Tesla, which is currently single precision by will likely have a double precision version in 2008.

The 500 gigaflops is about 100 times the performance of one of its dual core Opterons.

The Nvidia Tesla chips also can accelerate molecular modeling software by 300 times. Nvidia has benchmarked some computational chemistry packages.

Dwave Systems continues to make progress and will be showing a 28 qubit quantum computer next week at SC07.Dwave Systems is still on track for 512 qubit and 1024 qubit systems in 2008. 2009-2010 should see large scale quantum computer systems that are better suited to molecular simulation.

Scanning Tunneling Microscopes will be made 100 to 1000 times faster with new RF-STMs

Atomic Force Microscopes are coming down in price. There are some fabricate your own parts methods and new lower prices from companies like Zyvex.

There are new techniques for nanopatterning such as nanopantography (for 1 billion copies of ion beam patterns)

Catalysts help stamp patterns with 1 nanometer precision

Thermochemical nanolithography uses an atomic force microscope (AFM) and is 10,000 times faster than dip pen nanolithography. Researchers heat a silicon tip and run it over a thin polymer film. The heat from the tip induces a chemical reaction at the surface of the film. This reaction changes the film's chemical reactivity and transforms it from a hydrophobic substance to a hydrophilic one that can stick to other molecules. The technique is extremely fast and can write at speeds faster than millimeters per second. That's orders of magnitude faster than the widely used dip-pen nanolithography (DPN), which routinely clocks at a speed of 0.0001 millimeters per second.

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