Home > Important People > K. Eric Drexler

K. Eric Drexler

K. Eric Drexler (born April 25, 1955) is best known for popularizing the potential of molecular nanotechnology. Drexler was strongly influenced by ideas on Limits to Growth in the early '70s. His response in his first year at MIT was to seek out someone who was working on extraterrestrial resources. He found Dr. Gerard K. O'Neill of Princeton, a physicist famous for strong focusing in particle accelerators and his landmark work on the concepts of space colonization. Besides working summers for O'Neill building mass driver prototypes, he delivered papers at the first three Space Manufacturing conferences at Princeton. The 1977 and 1979 papers were co-authored with Keith Henson, and patents were issued on both subjects, vapor phase fabrication and space radiators. Drexler was involved in NASA summer studies in 1975 and 1976. He fabricated metal films a few tens of nanometers thick as proof of concept for high performance solar sails. He was active in space politics, helping the L5 Society defeat the "Moon Treaty" in 1980. During the late '70s he developed ideas about molecular nanotechnology, eventually finding Richard Feynman's talk, "There's Plenty of Room at the Bottom." In 1986 he published Engines of Creation, the first book to lay out the potentials of molecular nanotechnology. Dr Drexler received his bachelor's degree, master's degree, and PhD from MIT. His PhD was the first doctoral degree in Molecular Nanotechnology and (after some editing) his thesis was published as Nanosystems: Molecular Machinery, Manufacturing and Computation (1992), which received the AAP award for Best Computer Science Book of 1992. Drexler and Christine Peterson founded the Foresight Institute in 1986 to advance the science and engineering of molecular manufacturing.