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Posted: May 16, 2012
NNI announces new signature initiative: Nanotechnology Knowledge Infrastructure
(Nanowerk News) Nanotechnology solves global challenges by generating and applying new multidisciplinary knowledge of nanoscale phenomena and engineered nanoscale materials, structures, and products. The data underlying this new knowledge are vast, disconnected, and challenging to integrate into the broad scientific body of knowledge. The Federal agencies participating in the National Nanotecnology Initiative (NNI)—in conjunction with the broader nanoscale science, engineering, and technology communities—have identified the building of a formal knowledge infrastructure as critical to sustainable progress in nanotechnology. This reflects a desire to coordinate existing NNI member agency programmatic efforts that accelerate the vetting of new knowledge and that enable effective data utilization.
Nanoinformatics is the science and practice of developing and implementing effective mechanisms for the nanotechnology community to collect, validate, store, share, mine, analyze, model, and apply nanotechnology information. Nanoinformatics is integrated throughout the entire nanotechnology landscape, impacting all aspects of research, development, and application. An improved nanoinformatics infrastructure will ensure the sustainability of our national nanotechnology proficiency by improving the reproducibility and distribution of experimental data as well as by promoting the development and validation of tools and models to transform data into information and applications. A focused national emphasis on nanoinformatics will provide a strong basis for the rational design of nanomaterials and products, prioritization of research, and assessment of risk throughout product lifecycles and across sectors that include energy; environment, health, and safety (EHS); medicine; electronics; transportation; and national security. In this manner the effort described here will also contribute substantially to the Materials Genome Initiative, a related Federal interagency priority.
1. A diverse collaborative community of scientists, engineers, and technical staff to support research, development, and applications of nanotechnology to meet national challenges
2. An agile modeling network for multidisciplinary intellectual collaboration that effectively couples experimental basic research, modeling, and applications development
3. A sustainable cyber-toolbox to enable effective application of models and knowledge to nanomaterials design
4. A robust digital nanotechnology data and information infrastructure to support effective data sharing, collaboration, and innovation across disciplines and applications
Through these four thrusts, the Nanotechnology Knowledge Infrastructure (NKI) signature initiative will leverage and extend existing and emerging resources, programs, and technologies to create an architecture for nanoscale science and engineering in the 21st century. Specifically, several NNI agency-supported databases, portals, and resources containing data on nanomaterials will provide the foundation for this infrastructure; these are highlighted in Table 1.
Modern digital technologies such as the life sciences dialogue at WikiGenes, the digital physical sciences library ArXiv, and the use of Twitter and blogs for scientific debate have already demonstrated their potential to augment and expedite scientific exchange while respecting intellectual property and authorship. These technologies, applications, and systems will be instrumental in working towards establishing a robust modeling and data information infrastructure—including a central access point for existing and emerging modeling, simulation, and data efforts—that will support the research needs identified by the NNI member agencies and relevant stakeholders as outlined in the NNI Strategic Plan and the NNI Environmental, Health, and Safety Research Strategy.
The NKI will coordinate the nanoscale science, engineering, and technology communities around the fundamental, interconnected elements of collaborative modeling, a cyber-toolbox, and data infrastructure that will capitalize on American strengths in innovation, shorten the time from research to new product development, and maintain U.S. leadership in sustainable design of engineered nanoscale materials.