News and commentary about the Great Frontiers

ISS007-E-10807 (21 July 2003) --- This view of Earth's horizon as the sunsets over the Pacific Ocean was taken by an Expedition 7 crewmember onboard the International Space Station (ISS). Anvil tops of thunderclouds are also visible. Credit: Earth Science and Remote Sensing Unit, NASA Johnson Space Center

Image Credit: ISS007-E-10807 (21 July 2003) – Earth Science and Remote Sensing Unit, NASA Johnson Space Center

NanoBio 2007 Day Two Speaker: James Von Ehr II


James Von Ehr II is the founder and chairman of Zyvex Corporation. He is recognized as a respected leader in the nanotech industry and has received many awards.

Zyvex was created in 1997 to develop molecular technology and has now spun off into four different companies: Zyvex: Instruments, Performance Materials, Labs, and Asia. Zyvex is the leader in nanotechnology market with years of experience providing tools, instrumentation and applications to serve the semiconductor and advanced research markets. They now have 32-nm test chips. According to Von Ehr the company has been able to save its customers millions of dollars.

Carbon nanotubes are about 20 times stronger in tensile strength than stainless steel, and are the best heat and electrical conductors. Structures like houses, rafts, lever arms, and other useful devices can be built up out of carbon nanotubes, but even a single tube can be used to manipulate single atoms. The company has also found a way to solubize a bundle of nanotubes and process it into usable forms.

Zyvex’s first customer was Eastern Sports. Using Zyvex technology, Eastern Sports was able to give baseball bats and hockey sticks a 10 to 15% performance increase. Zyvex has since created a network of customers that includes Boeing.

The benefits of nanomaterials include building conventional items with the reinforcing structures nanotubes provide. NanoSolve Technology is able to apply the science to make bikes, baseball bats, and golf club shafts and more with carbon nanotube composites. A small increment in manufacturing means that the company is able to charge a large percentage more to increase revenue.

Von Ehr said “Molecular nanotech is the precise controlled rearrangement of atoms into higher value products,” for instance, huge perfect diamonds which may be used in a variety of ways including computer processing. Zyvex wishes to be able to lead the commercialization of adaptable, affordable, atomically-precise manufacturing. This step forward in manufacturing would mean that even the factory that is creating these materials is made in the same way that the products are. This concept is considered by Von Ehr to be Eric Drexler’s major conceptual breakthrough: the machine that is manipulating these atoms is also made out of atoms. Therefore one of the products that these machines should be able to make is more machines to make more product. Making physical objects by placing nearly every atom where it has been designed to go could mark the end of the industrial revolution and the beginning of a new one. We will then be able to create low cost factories, highly differentiated but low cost products, and faster time to market products. The long term environmental impact of molecular manufacturing is green and clean. One goal of the technology is to remove excess CO2 from the atmosphere and actually use it to make products. The pollution of today may have economic value in the future.

Zyvex sees itself as the facilitator for creating everything that could possibly be made in the world, not by actually manufacturing the product itself, but rather by manufacturing the machines that make the product.

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