-THE STUFF THAT DREAMS ARE MADE OF
Molecular nanotechnology (MNT) is the concept of engineering functional mechanical systems at the molecular scale. An equivalent definition would be "machines at the molecular scale designed and built atom-by-atom". One such application of molecular nanotechnology is "Utility Fog"— in which a cloud of networked microscopic robots (simpler than assemblers) would change its shape and properties to form macroscopic objects and tools in accordance with software commands.
Utility fog is a hypothetical collection of tiny robots, known as Foglets, envisioned by Dr. John Storrs Hall while he was thinking about a nano technological replacement for car seatbelts. In the original application as a replacement for seatbelts, the swarm of robots would be widely spread-out, and the arms loose, allowing air flow between them. In the event of a collision the arms would lock into their current position, as if the air around the passengers had abruptly frozen solid. The result would be to spread any impact over the entire surface of the passenger's body.
Utility Fog was not named utility for nothing. In a normal room Utility Fog fills the air, taking up only 3% of the space, and is virtually invisible. Each foglet would have substantial computing power, and would be able to communicate with its neighbors. In the invisible expanded mode, they can sense and map body motion with great fidelity and without a body feeling their presence.
Nanotechnology refers broadly to a field of applied science and technology whose unifying theme is the control of matter on the atomic and molecular scale, normally 1 to 100 nanometers, and the fabrication of devices within that size range. Two main approaches are used in nanotechnology. In the "bottom-up" approach, materials and devices are built from molecular components which assemble themselves chemically by principles of molecular...