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The term nanotechnology has come to have two primary meanings: 1) new science and technology that takes advantages of properties operating at the nanoscale, and 2) building with atomic precision through the use of molecular machine systems. The author distinguishes them by referring to the first as near-term nanotechnology and the second as molecular machine systems, or molecular nanotechnology (MNT), also termed molecular manufacturing. This paper attempt to sketch the history of the field overall, the confusion that has arisen between the various types of nanotechnology, the politics of U.S. funding, and prospects for broadening future R&D to put greater emphasis on the goal of building with atomic precision.
Date of Publication: Winter 2004