How Small can you Make it

The fundamental limits to the sizes of machines and devices, presented by the size of atoms and as represented by the molecular machines of biology, are clear. The ability within present technology to actually make machines and devices is very limited, so that practical limits on machines and devices are many orders of magnitude larger in size. (There are some notable exceptions: really atomic sized assemblies have been made using the scanning tunneling microscope.) The conventional machine tools that make small mechanical parts scarcely work below millimeter size at present.

Making many identical small molecules, or even many very large molecules is easy for today's chemist and chemical engineer. The challenge of nanotechnology is much harder, to engineer (design and make to order) a complex structure out of molecular sized components.

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