National Nanotechnology Institute

However, a big push for more government investment in nanotechnology research occurred in 2001. At that time, President Clinton requested in the 2002 federal budget a major new initiative, called the National Nanotechnology Initiative (NNI). The budget included an increase of more than 200 million dollars for the government's investment in nanotechnology research and development.

Additional nanotechnology dollars were authorized during President Bush's term. In December 2003, President Bush signed the Nanotechnology Research and Development Act, which authorizes funding for nanotechnology research and development (R&D) nanotechnology. This legislation puts into law programs and activities supported by the National Nanotechnology Initiative (NNI). The legislation also authorizes public hearings and expert advisory panels, as well as the American Nanotechnology Preparedness Center to study the emerging technology's potential societal and ethical effects.

According to one report, from 2001 to 2007, NNI participants formed over 60 facilities or institutes involved in nanotechnology research

Table 9.1 United States Government Expenditures in Nanotechnology (in millions of dollars, approximately)














$ 373



Department of






$ 345


Department of


$ 134

$ 202


$ 207

$ 258


Other Federal

$ 136

$ 142

$ 183





and development throughout the United States. New centers of nan-otechnology expertise, most of which are associated with universities, train workers and help educate researchers and developers of technology.

Spending on nanotechnology research and development (R&D) has amounted to several billions of dollars since the late 1990s, by the United States alone and accounts for a large portion of worldwide spending on this type of work. The government agencies that have spent the greatest amounts on nanotechnology are the National Science Foundation, the Department of Energy, and the Nation Institutes of Health.

In nanotechnology research, engineers, medical doctors, educators, chemists, physicists, nanotechnology researchers usually collaborate on studies and projects. Nanotechnology researchers often must share equipment, because many of the high-technology microscopes and other devices used in this technology are too expensive for each individual research facility to purchase and maintain its own. For example, acquiring a scanning electron microscope and building a clean-room can cost millions of dollars. So, grants and loans from government and private institutions provide money for such activities and equipment.

So far, the NNI has already made valuable contributions to the development of nanotechnology. With NNI funding, researchers have been working on gold nanoshells that can target the destruction of malignant cancer cells (See Chapter 5), low-cost solar cells and quantum dots for energy sources (See Chapter 6), and nanoscale iron particles that can reduce the costs of cleaning up contaminated groundwater (See Chapter 8).

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