American Pi + Old Ideas Revisited = A Few Thousand New Words For The Gallery

[Slipping into terminal blog mode for a moment] This past week saw (1) the second Technology Roadmap for Productive Nanosystems meeting at Brookhaven National Labs and the press release for (2) Nanorex’s first major educational outreach project as part of (3) the COSMOS (California State Summer School for Mathematics and Science) summer program. The purpose of (1) is to develop science and technology pathways with the intent of realizing the full potential of molecular nanotechnology, the purpose of (2) is to enable researchers, like myself, to have the best possible tools for designing molecules and nanosystems in order to go into experimental work with the most complete understanding of their properties, and the purpose of (3) is to make sure that we (that’s the world) will have researchers in the future capable of making it all happen (and, in case you’ve not been following the news, we need all the help we can get in the sciences).

The next major update to NanoEngineer-1 includes all of the force field parameters required to simulate carbon nanotubes and other structures with extended pi-systems. In anticipation, I began sorting through some very old designs of mine that I promised to revisit once computers and software became useful enough to allow for their simulation. Fortunately, the state of technology has moved faster than Barnard’s Star, so the old designs are rapidly being overwritten with new ideas. As for the gallery timing, I just completed some rerendering of gallery images for an upcoming article I’ll link to when it’s available, part of my work on the roadmap involves addressing steps to go from current technologies to motifs described in the new images, and, of course, Christine Peterson was kind enough to link to me in a recent nanodot post and I abhor the idea of having all the same old images up in the event anyone ever links to me again.

Some Brief Descriptions

The first image is of a non-covalent nanotube junction assembly that I first presented back in 2002 at the Foresight Institute 10th Conference on Molecular Nanotech. The design uses tapered nanotubes of identical radius and chirality (two things we can’t do yet in the lab, although you can buy the bulk products), molecular hinges composed of molecular fragments containing dative/dipolar bond donors and acceptors (which I presented with references and price lists for the components), and the MM2 force field with added terms used to model the dative interactions (which is older than I am and trusted to get the overall structures correct in this context). The goal was to design an octahedral junction that would, under ideal conditions, self-assemble. This structure just about maxed out the machine I had available at the time, but is now a 20 minute job to clean-up.


The second design is a network incorporating both the dative junction assembly above and my ever-so-popular fused diamondoid carbon nanotube van der Waals crimp junction. The purpose of this design was to demonstrate a number of structural motifs in as small/model-able a system as possible for part of my Brookhaven TRPN talk. In order to show the detail in this structure, you can click on this image to see a larger version. While I don’t wish to engage in a conformational entropy debate at the moment, I was pleased to include in the presentation of this structure a recent JACS paper out of Prof. Alex Zettl’s lab concerning nanotube solvation and nanotube/protein coupling.


Taking a step back to the present, the last image is the crystal cell of corannulene, the subject of a submitted article on solid-state DFT and crystal geometry prediction/interpretation. Not really nanotech, but these are pi-systems (sticking with a theme) and the image came out nicely after some tweaking. I will save the thorough explanation for if/when the article gets accepted.


Qubits (And Mark Burginger) Featured At Renderosity

I mentioned in a previous post about the good news being had by Mark and family with his Qubits building blocks. His toys (and graphics, which are also excellent) are featured on the main page of, a computer graphics art community site (there really is other content on the site besides hi-res women’s fashion (or lack thereof)). Now everyone can see what it was I was talking about (and why not yet another google hit for the Qubits website?). The article feedback is looking pretty positive as well.

Despite Marsha Carlson’s best efforts, I still don’t quote well. Fortunately, they managed to switch the order of my first and middle name (I oft’ wonder why the “Gregory” shows up everywhere), so people might wind up mistaking me for someone else.

Just for the sake of keeping records, a pdf of the article is available HERE.

Kudos To Qubits!

West coast architect Mark Burginger ( is a brother-in-spatial-learning, having peaked my curiosity almost a year ago with a great design for a unique building block (dare I say “toy?”). The design clicked very quickly once I saw what he was capable of building with it. I suspect formal images and designs will be made available soon on the new website for what are now known as Qubits (the artist formerly known as building block)! I’ll let him do the formal introduction, though. I expect to have some of my own designs up once the Qubits hit the market. I’m drawn to anything related to building blocks because one of the many possible pathways in advanced nanoscale engineering or intermediate molecular manufacturing is found in the design and manipulation of simple rigid subunits (which supramolecular chemistry and certain branches of materials science are currently addressing). Towards that end, anything anyone can do to improve other’s understanding of spatial relationships is excellent in my book. Molecular models in a student’s hands do far more to explain a concept like steric interactions than any diagram could.

One short year later, Mark’s won some significant awards and accolades (one notable award being from the Elwood & Stephanie Norris Foundation. In case you missed it, Woody had a pretty good run last year as well). Better still, he managed to wrap the whole Burginger clan (that’s Lisa, Garrett, Lyndsay, Hayley) into Team Qubits (“Or else!” he says…). I, of course, wish them all the best. They’ve got my vote. With luck, they’ll soon have my money, too. And don’t get me started on that “Geometric Construction Toy for Children” thing.