Behind the buzz and beyond the hype:
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Posted: Mar 21st, 2006
China is quickly becoming a leading force in nanotechnology
(Nanowerk News) China’s performance in nanoscience and nanotechnology is remarkable. Empirical evidence suggests that China is successfully implementing its strategic plan to become a leading global R&D and manufacturing force in nanotechnology. Although it started research in this field later than the other major countries like the USA, France, Germany, and Japan, China’s world share of publications in nanotechnology has increased rapidly. In 2004, China’s world share of publications was on average 6.5%, while its world share in nano-relevant publications was 8.3%.
The Chinese government declared nanotechnolgy a critical R&D priority in their Guidance for National Development in 2001. In the same year, the Chinese Ministry of Science and Technology, the National Development and Reform Commission, the Ministry of Education, the Chinese Academy of Sciences, and the National Natural Science Foundation jointly issued a Compendium of National Nanotechnology Development (2001–2010).
"The Chinese government pays unprecedented attention to the development of science and technology and the transition to a knowledge-based economy" the authors explain. "More than any other country in the world, funding for R&D is growing not only absolutely, but also relative to the spectacular growth in the gross national product."
China is a large country not only in terms of its scientific publications, but also in the large number of scientific journals it produces. More than 4,400 science
and technology journals were published in China in 2001, and around half a million scientific papers are published annually in these journals.
To identify the impact of Chinese research papers in the nanotechnology area, the study focusses on four "core" nanotech journals (Journal of Nanoscience and Nanotechnology, Nano Letters, Nanotechnology, and IEEE Transactions on Nanotechnology) and 85, mostly Western, "nano-relevant" journals.
The results are impressive. China has become the second largest single country, after the USA, in citations since 2003 (the share of the EU-15 has surpassed that of the USA since 2000). The share of China increases in an exponential way.
Percentage of world share of nano-relevant publications. (Reprinted with permission from Elsevier)
For an excellent and comprehensive 20-page overview of the state of nanotechnology research and manufacturing in China refer to "Scientific Development and Industrial Application of Nanotechnology in China". It can be downloaded here (pdf 184 KB).
This Compendium lays out the key tasks for nanotechnology development in China:
• to align R&D with market requirements
• to accelerate multidisciplinary R&D and communication
• to pay particular attention to intellectual property rights
• to encourage combined fundamental and applied research
• to align innovation policy with nanotechnology development.
In their overview, Gu and Schulte introduce the major research centers, describe the status of nanotechnology research, show the role of private companies, and provide an overview of industry focus and product variety.