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.
- 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.
- 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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