chapter  3
26 Pages

National NanotechnologyInitiative —Past, Present, Future

This chapter presents the genesis of the National Nanotechnology Initiative, its long-term view (2000-2020), its current status, and its likely evolution.

Nanoscale science and engineering activities are flourishing in the United States. The National Nanotechnology Initiative (NNI) is a long-term research and development (R&D) program that began in fiscal year (FY) 2001, and today coordinates 25 departments and independent agencies, including the National Science Foundation, the Department of Defense, the Department of Energy, the National Institutes of Health, the National Institute of Standards and Technology, and the National Aeronautical and Space Administration. The total R&D investment in FYs 2001-2006 was over $5 billion, increasing from the annual budget of $270 million in 2000 to $1.3 billion including congressionally directed projects in FY 2006. An important outcome is the formation of an interdisciplinary nanotechnology community with about 50,000 contributors A flexible R&D infrastructure with over 60 large centers, networks, and user facilities has been established since 2000. This expanding industry consists of more than 1500 companies with nanotechnology products with a value exceeding $40 billion at an annual rate of growth estimated at about 25%. With such growth and complexity, participation of a coalition of academic organizations, industry, businesses, civil organizations, government, and NGOs in nanotechnology development becomes essential as an alternative to the centralized approach. The role of government continues in basic research and education but its emphasis is changing, while the private sector becomes increasingly dominant in funding nanotechnology applications.