PCAST Report to the President and Congress on the Fourth Assessment of the National Nanotechnology Initiative (2012)

Subject Area:
External Evaluations of the NNI
Author: Executive Office of the President; President's Council of Advisors of Science and Technology (PCAST)
Publication Date: Apr. 27 2012

Description:

The National Nanotechnology Initiative (NNI) is a crosscutting Federal program designed to coordinate U.S. investment in research and development (R&D) activities in nanoscale science, engineering, technology, and related efforts across 25 agencies and programs. This is the fourth review of the NNI by the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) since the council was designated in 2004 as the National Nanotechnology Advisory Panel tasked with reviewing the initiative.

The Federal Government has proposed $1.8 billion of funding in fiscal year (FY) 2013 for 15 agencies with budgets dedicated to nanotechnology research and development. The FY 2013 request will represent total funding of $18 billion over the life of the Initiative. Nearly 75 percent of this funding goes to three Program Component Areas: Fundamental Nanoscale Phenomena and Processes, Nanomaterials, and Nanoscale Devices and Systems. The NNI continues to support a strong and growing portfolio of research on the societal implications of nanotechnology, nanotechnology education, and public outreach. The President’s 2013 budget includes a total of $306 million—a 24-percent increase compared to 2011 actual spending—for three Nanotechnology Signature Initiatives: Nanotechnology for Solar Energy Collection and Conversion; Sustainable Nanomanufacturing: Creating the Industries of the Future; and Nanoelectronics for 2020 and Beyond. These initiatives foster meaningful interagency collaboration and serve as springboards for the rapid advancement of nanoscience and technology toward commercialization.


Nanotechnology Fact

Exciting new nanotechnology-based medicines are now in clinical trials, which may be available soon to treat patients. Some use nanoparticles to deliver toxic anti-cancer drugs targeted directly to tumors, minimizing drug damage to other parts of the body. Others help medical imaging tools, like MRIs and CAT scans, work better and more safely. Nanotechnology is helping scientists make our homes, cars, and businesses more energy-efficient through new fuel cells, batteries, and solar panels. It is also helping to find ways to purify drinking water and to detect and clean up environmental waste and damage.

Nanomaterials are being tested for use in food packaging to greatly improve shelf life and safety. Nanosensors to detect food-borne pathogens are also being developed for food packaging. New nanomaterials will be stronger, lighter, and more durable than the materials we use today in buildings, bridges, automobiles, and more. Scientists have experimented with nanomaterials that bend light in unique ways that may enable the development of an “invisibility cloak.” The possibilities seem limitless, and the future of nanotechnology holds great potential. For more information, see Benefits and Applications.

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