Robert Freitas

Robert Freitas

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Robert A. Freitas Jr. is a Senior Research Fellow, one of four researchers at the nonprofit foundation Institute for Molecular Manufacturing in Palo Alto
Palo Alto, California
Palo Alto is a California charter city located in the northwest corner of Santa Clara County, in the San Francisco Bay Area of California, United States. The city shares its borders with East Palo Alto, Mountain View, Los Altos, Los Altos Hills, Stanford, Portola Valley, and Menlo Park. It is...

, California
California is a state located on the West Coast of the United States. It is by far the most populous U.S. state, and the third-largest by land area...

. He holds a 1974 Bachelor's degree majoring in both physics
Physics is a natural science that involves the study of matter and its motion through spacetime, along with related concepts such as energy and force. More broadly, it is the general analysis of nature, conducted in order to understand how the universe behaves.Physics is one of the oldest academic...

 and psychology
Psychology is the study of the mind and behavior. Its immediate goal is to understand individuals and groups by both establishing general principles and researching specific cases. For many, the ultimate goal of psychology is to benefit society...

 from Harvey Mudd College
Harvey Mudd College
Harvey Mudd College is a private residential liberal arts college of science, engineering, and mathematics, located in Claremont, California. It is one of the institutions of the contiguous Claremont Colleges, which share adjoining campus grounds....

, and a 1978 Juris Doctor
Juris Doctor
Juris Doctor is a professional doctorate and first professional graduate degree in law.The degree was first awarded by Harvard University in the United States in the late 19th century and was created as a modern version of the old European doctor of law degree Juris Doctor (see etymology and...

 (J.D.) degree from Santa Clara University
Santa Clara University
Santa Clara University is a private, not-for-profit, Jesuit-affiliated university located in Santa Clara, California, United States. Chartered by the state of California and accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges, it operates in collaboration with the Society of Jesus , whose...

. He has written more than 150 technical papers, book chapters, or popular articles on a diverse set of scientific, engineering, and legal topics. He co-edited the 1980 NASA
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration is the agency of the United States government that is responsible for the nation's civilian space program and for aeronautics and aerospace research...

 feasibility analysis of self-replicating
Self-replication is any behavior of a dynamical system that yields construction of an identical copy of that dynamical system. Biological cells, given suitable environments, reproduce by cell division. During cell division, DNA is replicated and can be transmitted to offspring during reproduction...

Outer space
Outer space is the void that exists between celestial bodies, including the Earth. It is not completely empty, but consists of a hard vacuum containing a low density of particles: predominantly a plasma of hydrogen and helium, as well as electromagnetic radiation, magnetic fields, and neutrinos....

A factory or manufacturing plant is an industrial building where laborers manufacture goods or supervise machines processing one product into another. Most modern factories have large warehouses or warehouse-like facilities that contain heavy equipment used for assembly line production...

 and later authored the first detailed technical design study of a hypothetical medical nanorobot, the respirocyte
Respirocytes are hypothetical, microscopic, artificial red blood cells that can emulate the function of its organic counterpart, only with 200 times the efficiency, so as to supplement or replace the function of much of the human body's normal respiratory system. Still entirely theoretical,...

, ever published in a refereed medical journal
Medical journal
A public health journal is a scientific journal devoted to the field of public health, including epidemiology, biostatistics, and health care . Public health journals, like most scientific journals, are peer-reviewed...


In 1977-78 Robert Freitas created Sentience Quotient
Sentience Quotient
The sentience quotient concept was introduced by Robert A. Freitas Jr. in the late 1970s. It defines sentience as the relationship between the information processing rate of each individual processing unit , the weight/size of a single unit and the total number of processing units .This is a...

 (SQ) as a way to describe the information processing rate in living organisms or computers. Freitas is authoring the multi-volume text Nanomedicine
Nanomedicine is the medical application of nanotechnology. Nanomedicine ranges from the medical applications of nanomaterials, to nanoelectronic biosensors, and even possible future applications of molecular nanotechnology. Current problems for nanomedicine involve understanding the issues related...

, the first book-length technical discussion of the potential medical applications of hypothetical molecular nanotechnology
Molecular nanotechnology
Molecular nanotechnology is a technology based on the ability to build structures to complex, atomic specifications by means of mechanosynthesis. This is distinct from nanoscale materials...

 and medical nanorobotics. Volume I was published in October 1999 by Landes Bioscience
Landes Bioscience
Landes Bioscience is an Austin, Texas-based publisher of biology journals, primary books, and medical reference manuals. Cell Cycle, one of its first two journals, achieved the highest percent increase in total citations in molecular biology and genetics for the period of July–August 2007, with...

 while Freitas was a Research Fellow at the Institute for Molecular Manufacturing . He published Volume IIA in October 2003 with Landes Bioscience while serving as a research scientist at Zyvex
Zyvex was the first molecular nanotechnology company, founded by James R. Von Ehr II in 1997.In April 2007, the corporation split into four components: Zyvex Technologies, Zyvex Instruments , Zyvex Labs, and Zyvex Asia....

 Corp., a nanotechnology company headquartered in Richardson, Texas, during 2000-2004.

Also in 2004, Robert Freitas and Ralph Merkle
Ralph Merkle
Ralph C. Merkle is a researcher in public key cryptography, and more recently a researcher and speaker on molecular nanotechnology and cryonics...

 coauthored and published Kinematic Self-Replicating Machines, the first complete survey of the field of physical and hypothetical self-replicating machines. In 2006, Freitas and Merkle co-founded the Nanofactory Collaboration, a research program to develop the first working diamondoid nanofactory.

In 2006, Freitas was awarded Lifeboat Foundation's Guardian Award, and he received the 2007 Foresight Prize in Communication from the Foresight Institute
Foresight Institute
The Foresight Institute is a Palo Alto, California-based nonprofit organization for promoting transformative technologies. They sponsor conferences on molecular nanotechnology, publish reports, and produce a newsletter....

. In 2009, Freitas was awarded the Feynman Prize in Nanotechnology for Theory.

In 2010, Freitas was granted a patent for what was at the time (2004) the first patent application ever filed on diamond mechanosynthesis.

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