National Science Foundation Funding Mechanisms

NSF has developed a multilevel approach to funding research in nanotechnology. The Nanoscale Science and Engineering (NSE) program has been funded for five years now. The funding structure ranges from small, one-year, exploratory grants to large five- to ten-year center awards. Each type of grant provides a different opportunity for researchers and a different level of technological maturity for companies that may be looking for new technology and partners in academia. NSF also has primary programs (not specifically related to nanotechnology) in the Directorates for Engineering, Math and Physical Sciences, and Biological Sciences; these programs fund substantial levels of research related to nanotechnology. Abstracts of funded research projects can be found at the NSF Web site (

Nanoscale Science and Engineering Centers (NSECs)

NSEC awards are typically for five years and are renewable for another five years. Although the actual funding for individual research projects within a center is not large, a key mission of these centers is to address interdisciplinary, systems-level research, as well as to build an infrastructure for both education and research. Each NSEC is also meant to be a focal point and portal for a specific research vision, leading advances in a specific theme while retaining knowledge about what others are doing in related areas. Currently fourteen NSECs have been established, with two others anticipated to be funded in the fiscal year 2005 competition (see Table 7-1).

Table 7-1. NSF-funded Nanoscale Science and Engineering Centers





Northwestern University

Integrated Nanopatterning and Detection Technologies (

Sept. 2001

Cornell University

Nanoscale Systems in Information Technologies (

Sept. 2001

Harvard University

Science of Nanoscale Systems and Their Device Applications (

Sept. 2001

Columbia University

Electronic Transport in Molecular Nanostructures (

Sept. 2001

Rice University

Nanoscience in Biological and Environmental Engineering (

Sept. 2001

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, University of Illinois

Directed Assembly of Nanostructures (

Sept. 2001

UCLA, UC Berkeley, UC San Diego, Stanford, UNC Charlotte

Center for Scalable and Integrated Nanomanufacturing (

Sept. 2003

University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

Center for Nanoscale

Chemical-Electrical-Mechanical-Manufacturing Systems (

Sept. 2003

Northeastern University, University of Massachusetts lowell.

Center for High-rate Nanomanufacturing (

Sept. 2004

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