Freitas holds a 1974 Bachelor's degree majoring in both physics and psychology from Harvey Mudd College, and a 1978 Juris Doctor (J.D.) degree from Santa Clara University. 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 feasibility analysis of self-replicating space factories and later authored the first detailed technical design study of a hypothetical medical nanorobot, the respirocyte, ever published in a refereed medical journal.
In 1977-78 Robert Freitas created the concept sentience quotient (SQ) as a way to describe the information processing rate in living organisms or computers. Freitas is authoring the multi-volume text Nanomedicine, the first book-length technical discussion of the potential medical applications of hypothetical molecular nanotechnology and medical nanorobotics. Volume I was published in October 1999 by Landes Bioscience 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 Corp., a nanotechnology company headquartered in Richardson, Texas, during 2000-2004.
Also in 2004, Robert Freitas and Ralph Merkle 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. In 2009, Freitas was awarded the Feynman Prize in Nanotechnology for Theory.
- Robert A. Freitas Jr., Nanomedicine, Volume I: Basic Capabilities (Landes Bioscience, 1999) ISBN 1-57059-645-X
- Robert A. Freitas Jr., Nanomedicine, Vol. IIA: Biocompatibility (Landes Bioscience, 2003) ISBN 1-57059-700-6
- Robert A. Freitas Jr., Ralph C. Merkle, Kinematic Self-Replicating Machines (Landes Bioscience, 2004) ISBN 1-57059-690-5
- Robert A. Freitas Jr., Nanomedicine: Biocompatibility (S Karger Pub, 2004) ISBN 3-8055-7722-2
- "Molecular Manufacturing". Imm.org. Retrieved 2012-07-17.
- "Lifeboat Foundation Guardian Award 2006: Robert A. Freitas Jr. and Bill Joy". Lifeboat.com. Retrieved 2012-07-17.
- Peterson, Christine (2007-10-09). "Nanotechnology prizes go to Leigh, Stoddart, Freitas, Ou". Foresight Institute. Retrieved 2010-07-13.
- Storrs-Hall, J. (2009-10-09). "Foresight Institute Announces Feynman Prize Winners". Foresight Institute. Retrieved 2010-07-13.
- IMM Presentations & Activities — see "2004": "Robert Freitas submitted the first patent ever filed on diamond mechanosynthesis"
- Simple tool for positional diamond mechanosynthesis, and its method of manufacture US Patent 7687146 -- Published 30 March 2010
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