The prize was established "to recognize researchers whose recent work has most advanced the field toward the achievement of Feynman's vision for nanotechnology: molecular manufacturing, the construction of atomically precise products through the use of molecular machine systems."
The Foresight Institute has offered a number of additional awards as well. The Prize in Communication for journalism and outreach efforts which promote public understanding of molecular nanotechnology was awarded from 2000 to 2007, and a Government Prize to recognize government officials was awarded in 2005. A Distinguished Student Award for graduate and undergraduate students was awarded from 1997 to 2007, and resumed in 2012.
"for his pioneering experimental work in molecular nanotechnology which included seminal contributions to the synthesis and characterization of the unique physical properties of carbon nanotubes and nanowires"
"for opening up new possibilities for the fabrication of molecular machine systems by selectively functionalizing nanoparticles and surfaces, particularly with DNA, enabling the self-assembly of new structures which move us closer to the goal of molecular manufacturing"
"for their work demonstrating that DNA tiles can be designed to form crystalline nanotubes that exhibit a stiffness greater than the biological protein nanofilament actin, [and for having] established that algorithmic self-assembly could work well enough to generate non-trivial non-periodic patterns"
"in recognition of their pioneering experimental demonstrations of mechanosynthesis, specifically the use of atomic resolution dynamic force microscopy — also known as non-contact atomic force microscopy (NC-AFM) — for vertical and lateral manipulation of single atoms on semiconductor surfaces"
MANA Center, Japanese National Institute for Materials Science
"in recognition of his pioneering and continuing work, including research into the manipulation of atoms, the multiprobe STM and AFM, the atomic switch, and single-molecule-level chemical control including ultradense molecular data storage and molecular wiring; and his inspiration of an entire generation of researchers who have made their own ground-breaking contributions to nanotechnology"
"[for] their remarkable experiments advancing the frontiers of scanning probe microscopy. They were the first to produce images of molecular orbitals and charges detailed enough to identify the structure of individual molecules, as well as metal-molecule complexes. They have also been able to precisely make and break individual chemical bonds."
"[for] exceptional work in the fabrication of nanoscale electromechanical systems (NEMS), spanning multiple decades and including carbon nanotube-based bearings, actuators, and sensors brought to fruition with cutting-edge nanoscale engineering"
"for their 'Theory in Molecular Computation and Algorithmic Self-assembly' research... based on their demonstration of methods for universal computation with DNA, including using DNA tiles to simulate cellular automata"
"[for] the design and synthesis of artificial molecular motors and machines from first principles and... the construction of molecular machine systems that function in the realm of Brownian motion"
"in recognition of his pioneering theoretical work in mechanosynthesis in which he proposed specific molecular tools and analyzed them using ab initio quantum chemistry to validate their ability to build complex molecular structures, [and] also his previous work in systems design of molecular machines, including replicating molecular manufacturing systems, which should eventually be able to make large atomically precise products economically, and the design of medical nanodevices, which should eventually revolutionize medicine"
"for his development of quantum mechanical methods and computational programs that make it possible to carry out accurate theoretical predictions of molecules and solids, and their application to the chemical and electronic properties of carbon nanostructures"
"for his general theory of DNA displacement cascades. He has shown that systems of DNA molecules can be designed with arbitrary dynamic behavior. In particular, he has shown that they are Turing-complete, and so can be made to run any general-purpose computer program."
"[for] spearhead[ing] understanding of the structure and stability of carbon nanostructures, and the role that shape plays in establishing the properties and interactions under different conditions"
"for educating the nanotechnology community about the long-term potential of molecular nanotechnology... via their electronic newsletter, TNT Weekly, and industry survey, The Nanotechnology Opportunity Report"
"for [writing] Nanomedicine, the definitive book on the medical applications of molecular nanotechnology... and Kinematic Self-Replicating Machines, the foundational description of system architectures for molecular nanotechnology"