K. Eric Drexler, Ph.D., is a researcher and author whose work focuses on advanced nanotechnologies and directions for current research. More broadly, he examines the projected capabilities and consequences of advanced physical technologies, an area often neglected or overshadowed in the study of technological change. He brings to this area an approach based not on speculative predictions, or on extrapolating trends, but instead on a physics-based analysis of the scope of technologies allowed by the laws of nature.
Beginning in 1977, Eric explored a vision first articulated by Richard Feynman, leading him to study the physical principles of productive nanosystems (nanomachines that can be used to make products with atomic precision). This work resulted in his 1981 paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and to subsequent books, including Engines of Creation, in which he outlined the prospects for advanced molecular manufacturing technology—its capabilities, their medical, environmental, and economic implications, dangers and security risks, and potential policy responses. Engines of Creation introduced the term “nanotechnology” to describe the Feynman vision and the technologies it will enable. This created widespread excitement about the potential of nanotechnology and provided the initial impetus for today’s growing worldwide investment in nanoscale science and technology.
He later authored Nanosystems: Molecular Machinery, Manufacturing, and Computation, a textbook that draws on the principles of physics, chemistry, computation, and systems engineering to describe the fundamentals of molecular manufacturing and how to achieve it. His publications in the area of molecular nanotechnology are cited as foundational in protein engineering, nanomachinery, and mechanosynthesis. He recently served as Chief Technical Consultant to the Technology Roadmap for Productive Nanosystems, a project of the Battelle Memorial Institute with support from the Oak Ridge, Pacific Northwest, and Brookhaven US National Laboratories. He is currently working in a collaboration with the World Wildlife Fund to explore nanotechnology-based solutions to global problems such as energy and climate change.
Eric Drexler was born in Alameda, CA in 1955. He obtained SB and SM degrees from MIT, and was awarded a PhD from MIT in Molecular Nanotechnology (the first degree of its kind; his dissertation was a draft of Nanosystems), supervised by Marvin Minsky. His book Nanosystems received the AAP award for Most Outstanding Computer Science Book of 1992.
Dr. Drexler serves as Chief Technical Advisor to Nanorex, a company developing open-source design software for structural DNA nanotechnologies. He consults and speaks on how current research can be directed more effectively toward high-payoff objectives, and addresses the implications of emerging technologies for our future, including their use to solve, rather than delay, large-scale problems such as global warming.
Eric resides in Los Altos, California, with his wife, Rosa Wang.
Updated 1 February 2009