While many definitions for nanotechnology
or nanotech, exist, the National Nanotechnology Initiative
calls it "nanotechnology" only if it involves all
of the following:
1. Research and technology development at the atomic,
molecular or macromolecular levels, in the length scale
of approximately 1 - 100 nanometer range.
2. Creating and using structures, devices and systems
that have novel properties and functions because of their
small and/or intermediate size.
3. Ability to control or manipulate on the atomic
Medical researchers work at the micro-
and nano-scales to develop new drug delivery methods, therapeutics
and pharmaceuticals. For instance, DNA, our genetic material,
is in the 2.5 nanometer range, while red blood cells are
approximately 2.5 micrometers.
President Bush signs bill authorizing
U.S. nanotechnology program
December 3, 2003—President Bush today signed
the 21st Century Nanotechnology Research and Development
Act, which recently passed the House (H.R. 766) and the
Senate (S. 189) with overwhelming support.
This legislation puts into law programs and activities
supported by the National Nanotechnology Initiative (NNI),
one of the President’s highest multi-agency research
and development (R&D) priorities. The authorization
bill calls for $3.7 billion for nanotechnology R&D
for FY 2005-2008 for five of the 16 agencies comprising
the existing NNI: the National Science Foundation, Department
of Energy, National Aeronautics and Space Administration,
National Institute of Standards and Technology, and the
Environmental Protection Agency.
The legislation also requires the creation of research
centers, education and training efforts, studies into the
societal and ethical consequences of nanotechnology, and
activities directed toward transferring technology into
the marketplace. Finally, the bill sets up advisory committees
and regular program reviews, and delineates additional
tasks for the National Nanotechnology Coordination Office.
“The 21st Century Nanotechnology Research
and Development Act is important recognition for this new
field of science and technology for the progress and future
of the US economy and society in the next decades,” said
Mihail C. Roco, chairman of the Nanoscale Science, Engineering
and Technology (NSET) Subcommittee of the National Science
and Technology Committee, and senior advisor for nanotechnology
at the National Science Foundation.
House Science Committee Chairman Sherwood Boehlert
(R-NY) and Rep. Mike Honda (D-CA) co-sponsored the House
legislation. Senators Ron Wyden (D-OR) and George Allen
(R-VA) were the Senate co-sponsors.
Congress must pass an appropriations bill for the
NNI activities mandated in the legislation before funds
will be allocated. The President’s 2004 Budget provides
$849 million for the multi-agency National Nanotechnology
Initiative, a 9.8 percent increase over 2003.