The latest news from academia, regulators
research labs and other things of interest
Posted: Dec 07, 2010
Research and Science Education Subcommittee Chairman suppprts nanotechnology strategic plan
(Nanowerk News) Research and Science Education Subcommittee Chairman Dan Lipinski (IL-03) expressed his strong support for the National Nanotechnology Initiative's draft Strategic Plan, in particular its focus on ensuring that America's substantial investment in nanotech research and development is turned into new companies, products, and jobs.
"I firmly believe that nanotechnology has enormous potential to create domestic jobs, and as a result I strongly support the draft strategy's emphasis on technology transfer and commercialization," Congressman Lipinski stated in a letter to John P. Holdren, Assistant to the President for Science and Technology and Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy. "Over the past decade the NNI agencies have invested billions of dollars in nanotech research, and as a result we have seen tremendous advancements in materials science and engineering. But we cannot afford to let these discoveries follow the unfortunate pattern of American innovations turning into products manufactured in China or Japan. The proposals in this draft are a good first step toward avoiding this problem and creating the kind of good-paying high-tech jobs we need."
Nanotechnology has the potential to have a transformative effect on numerous fields, and in some cases is already beginning to realize that potential. In medicine, it could lead to devices able to detect cancer in its early stages. In the clean energy industry, it is reducing the cost of solar panels and increasing the efficiency of batteries for alternative-fuel vehicles. In information technology, it is needed to enable continued increases in processor speeds. And in manufacturing, exceptionally strong, light, and durable nanomaterials can be used to improve existing products and create new ones. Nanotechnology involves manipulating materials as small as a single nanometer. A sheet of paper is about 100,000 nanometers thick.
In his letter, Congressman Lipinski commends the draft Strategic Plan's proposal to double federal investment in nanomanufacturing research and increase public-private partnerships that can boost commercialization. In addition, he applauds the plan's three Signature Initiatives, especially the sustainable nanomanufacturing initiative. Since nanotechnology's promise can only be fulfilled if suitable manufacturing processes are developed, this initiative aims to develop industrial-scale, safe, and environmentally sustainable methods for manufacturing nanodevices for a variety of applications.
"After a decade that saw American manufacturers shed 5.6 million jobs, we must seize the opportunity to revitalize this critical sector by translating nanotechnology research into jobs and economic growth," Congressman Lipinski said. "In my home state of Illinois, research performed at the state's eight NNI-supported Centers of Excellence has helped lead to a variety of startups with names like Nanosphere, Nanophase, NanoInk, and Nanotope. But there's no doubt we need to accelerate commercialization, and I'm pleased that the Strategic Plan takes that obligation seriously. With the right vision and the right execution, I'm convinced nanotechnology will be the foundation of the next industrial revolution."
One of the few members of Congress who holds an engineering degree, Congressman Lipinski wrote a bill reauthorizing the National Science Foundation; cosponsored and helped pass in the House last year the National Nanotechnology Initiative Amendments Act, which would have reauthorized the NNI; and this year helped pass in the House the America COMPETES Act, which includes both pieces of legislation. He is also a strong supporter of domestic manufacturing, having authored the National Manufacturing Strategy Act, H.R. 4692, which passed the House in July with bipartisan support.
The NNI coordinates nanotech research across 25 federal agencies and has helped create a network of state-of-the-art nanoscale research centers. It is required to produce periodic Strategic Plans outlining its vision, goals, and R&D investment strategy.