After reading the title of this post, you might be thinking that you are not in the website of Cesar Mendoza. "eh, he works in video games, what is this nano.. stuff about ?"
In fact, in the past I did some research in nano technology. Under the support of two research teams, the ICA-ACROE lab of the Grenoble Institute of Technology (INPG) and the PicoGroup of the LEPES lab of the Néel Institute of the CNRS I proposed a research project for making investigations in the nanoworld.
These two groups are leading teams in mechanics, robotics and moreover in nano physics.
The idea of the project was to develop nanogrippers (say, a gripper tool but incredibly small) that we could use to execute 3D tasks, for example, assembly manipulations. Imagine manipulating atoms with your own hands.
The design of these nanogrippers included virtual reality to enable the user to "actually see" the nano manipulations and force feedback to provide the sensation of "feeling" the manipulated objects, i.e. "touching the atoms". This design was strongly based on the Atomic Force Microscope (AFM). Just to mention, at the time I wrote this document, it was possible to use Atomic Force Microscope as a tool tip to touch nano objects.
The project was really ambitious and exciting and we submitted to the CNRS, Unfortunately, the project was rejected and of course, I was not assigned to follow this project.
Just as a anecdote, when I presented this project in Paris, at 9:30 am, in 2006, one person of the jury was sleeping (I couldn't believe it !) and the other spent his time watching at his PC without taking care about what I said. I wish I could know the name of the guy who was sleeping... Under these circumstances, I was not really in the mood to show the great potential of the project.. the project, as I said, was rejected.
Anyway, the thing is that I still believe in the future of this and if you have a AFM, I can send you all the details of the project (in French). For now, you can get the English summary here.
Use it !