Nanotechnology Agents and Biocomputing
Copyright © 2007, David A. Epstein.
All Rights Reserved.

June 23, 2007
(in progress)

One of the more exciting areas of modern technological exploration is the emerging field of nanotechnology. Nanotechnology is the science and technology of building and operating devices consisting of single atoms or molecules. It has applications in a wide variety of areas, from fighting cancerous cells in the human body to building microprocessors. Most work is conducted in the Research & Development sphere, but there are companies dedicated to commercial applications in this area.

What I wish to focus upon is the potential for nanometric computerized and networking commercial applications. Such applications would be built on molecular or atomic computers. Nanocomputers could operate as singular standalone entities or networked together in molecular/atomic pods or micro-topologies.

Below are some areas to consider:

Computability

A nanocomputer would need to be based upon molecular or atomic interactions. Molecular computers would harness energy released from chemical interactions and would perform computerized operations based upon stable, reactant cellular motions and molecular bonding properties. Atomic computers (i.e. quantum computers) would be based upon quantum spin states. The main problem with quantum computers is that it would be difficult to control computability due to the inherent uncertainty and instability in quantum mechanics. That uncertainty would need to be translated into an algorithmic set of instructions regulating/adapting to the resulting unpredictable behavior; this regulation/adaptation cycle would be utilized to perform meaningful computations.

Operational Functionality

Different molecular or atomic states would be harnessed to perform computational operations. These computers would utilize the active chemical or atomic energy inherent in the various states for a variety of purposes. For example, electrochemical signals corresponding to certain states, or resulting from specific chemical processes, would be relayed to parts of the computer to perform specific tasks. One set of signals would store results in the computer's memory, other signals would retrieve stored data, and still other signal streams would transmit information between molecular and atomic computers.

Networking

Nanocomputers would need to be networked together. One computer can make a request of another computer to perform a set of operations (outsourcing or farming). The response would be sent back to the requesting computer. This will be useful for applications where there are multiple and/or intricate interdependencies between regional operations.

Relaying the results to the backend server would be the final step (see Security area below).

Security

Quantum or molecular vibrations could be utilized to encrypt computational data or algorithmic instructions. Stable molecular properties like bonding could be useful to encrypt data as well. Perhaps a weighing formula of chemical energy and stable properties could be invoked.

Commercial Potential

Nanorobots performing meaningful work would be transmitting their results to a backend micro-server. An invoicing and billing system would send all work performed to this server, with the final destination being the customer's computer.

Operating System & Platform

The operating system itself would be a molecular or atomic platform for running nano-applications.  All of the various OS functions would be included here: scheduling, File IO, task management, memory management, etc. It could also include functions that are solely indigenous to biological processes and not represented in traditional operating systems. The biocomputing OS would be an encoding of rules and instructions micro-programmed into the electrochemical and atomic processes. A nano-application would run as a service on the OS/platform. A certain chemical process, such as breaking the chemical bonds of some molecular substance, would trigger the invocation of that service. Other processes, like rotating molecules, interpreting the results of a chemical reaction, and altering atomic spin states would be used to manage functional features of that service, from gathering & processing data, to building new molecular structures in accordance to blueprint instruction sets.

"File IO" would operate with input and output signal streams discussed above. Data wouldn't be stored in traditional text files or databases, but in electrochemical states of the referenced molecule or atom (TBD: How would nano-information be stored in memory). Tasks would be run and managed on molecular/atomic multiprocessors. Finally, the OS/Platform would be responsible for networking information, data, and so forth. Each atom and molecule could be a host server with a specific IP address and assigned port.

Data, information, and work performed would be relayed back to a real server via wireless transmission. The server would be programmed to only accept data streams transmitted at specific electro-optical frequencies. This will provide an extra layer of security for the data transmission. The actual data management, information processing, network traffic, and even modelling could be performed on the server.

Updated: July 20, 2009. Added OS & Platform section.