The report provides an overview of federal research and development in nanotechnology, U.S. competitiveness in the field, environmental, health, and safety (EHS) concerns, nanomanufacturing, and public understanding of and attitudes toward nanotechnology.
The federal government in the United States has made sustained investments in nanotechnology under the National Nanotechnology Initiative (NNI) since FY2001. While numerous nanotechnology applications have been incorporated in commercial products, they have generally offered incremental improvements in product performance.
Proponents assert that nanotechnology has the potential to bring revolutionary products to market, reshaping existing industries and creating new ones. These products may bring significant economic and social benefits to the United States and to the world; however, substantial research, development, and innovation-related hurdles remain before these benefits might be realized. Congress may play an active role in addressing some or all of these hurdles.
The issues Congress may opt to consider include budget authorization levels for the covered agencies; R&D funding levels, priorities, and balance across the program component areas; administration and management of the NNI; translation of research results and early-stage technology into commercially viable applications; environmental, health, and safety issues; ethical, legal, and societal implications; education and training for the nanotechnology workforce; metrology, standards, and nomenclature; public understanding; and international dimensions