National Nanotechnology Initiative

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NNI's 2014 enacted budget by agency.[1]

  NIH – $441.5M (28.7%)
  NSF – $410.6M (26.7%)
  Energy – $303.3M (19.7%)
  Defense – $175.9M (11.4%)
  NIST — $97.8M (6.4%)
  Homeland Security – $24.0M (1.6%)
  Agriculture – $19.1M (1.2%)
  NASA – $17.9M (1.2%)
  FDA – $17.0M (1.1%)
  EPA – $15.5M (1.0%)
  Other (0.99999999999999%)

The National Nanotechnology Initiative (NNI) is a research and development initiative which provides a framework to coordinate nanoscale research and resources among United States federal government agencies and departments.


Mihail C. Roco proposed the initiative in a 1999 presentation to the White House under the Clinton administration.[2][3][4][5] The NNI was officially launched in 2000 and received funding for the first time in FY2001.[6]

President Bill Clinton advocated nanotechnology development. In a 21 January 2000 speech [1] at the California Institute of Technology, Clinton stated that "Some of our research goals may take twenty or more years to achieve, but that is precisely why there is an important role for the federal government."

President George W. Bush further increased funding for nanotechnology. On 3 December 2003 Bush signed into law the 21st Century Nanotechnology Research and Development Act (Pub. L. 108–153 (text) (PDF)), which authorizes expenditures for five of the participating agencies totaling $3.63 billion over four years.[2]. This law is an authorization, not an appropriation, and subsequent appropriations for these five agencies have not met the goals set out in the 2003 Act. However, there are many agencies involved in the Initiative that are not covered by the Act, and requested budgets under the Initiative for all participating agencies in Fiscal Years 2006 – 2015 totaled over $1 billion each.

In February 2014, the National Nanotechnology Initiative released a Strategic Plan outlining updated goals and "program component areas" [3]," as required under the terms of the Act. This document supersedes the NNI Strategic Plans released in 2004 and 2007.

The NNI's budget supplement proposed by the Obama administration for Fiscal Year 2015 provides $1.5 billion in requested funding. The cumulative NNI investment since fiscal year 2001, including the 2015 request, totals almost $21 billion. Cumulative investments in nanotechnology-related environmental, health, and safety research since 2005 now total nearly $900 million. The Federal agencies with the largest investments are the National Institutes of Health, National Science Foundation, Department of Energy, Department of Defense, and the National Institute of Standards and Technology.[7]

The NNI cumulative investment by 2021 inclusive reached $36 billion, and nanotechnology has become pervasive in material, energy and biosystem related applications (


The four primary goals of NNI are:[8]

  1. Advance a world-class nanotechnology research and development program;
  2. Foster the transfer of new technologies into products for commercial and public benefits;
  3. Develop and sustain educational resources, a skilled workforce, and a dynamic infrastructure and toolset to advance nanotechnology;
  4. Support responsible development of nanotechnology.


Nanotechnology Signature Initiatives[edit]

Nanotechnology Signature Initiatives (NSIs) spotlight areas of nanotechnology where significant advances in nanoscale science and technology can be made with the focus and cooperation of participating agencies. NSIs accelerate research, development, and application of nanotechnology in these critical areas.[9]

As of December 2020, the current NSIs are:[9]

  • NSI: Water Sustainability through Nanotechnology – Nanoscale Solutions for a Global-Scale Challenge,
  • NSI: Nanotechnology for Sensors and Sensors for Nanotechnology – Improving and Protecting Health, Safety, and the Environment,
  • NSI: Sustainable Nanomanufacturing - Creating the Industries of the Future,
  • NSI: Nanoelectronics for 2020 and Beyond.

NSIs are dynamic and are retired as they achieve their specified goals or develop an established community they no longer require the spotlight provided as a NSI. Retired NSIs are:[9]

  • NSI: Nanoelectronics for 2020 and Beyond,
  • NSI: Nanotechnology for Solar Energy Collection and Conversion - Contributing to Energy Solutions for the Future,
  • NSI: Nanotechnology Knowledge Infrastructure - Enabling National Leadership in Sustainable Design.

Nanotechnology-Inspired Grand Challenges[edit]

A nanotechnology-inspired grand challenge (GC) is an ambitious goal that utilizes nanotechnology and nanoscience to solve national and global issues. The first and current GC was announced in October 2015 after receiving input and suggestions from the public. As of December 2020, the grand challenge is:[10]

  • A Nanotechnology-Inspired Grand Challenge for Future Computing: Create a new type of computer that can proactively interpret and learn from data, solve unfamiliar problems using what it has learned, and operate with the energy efficiency of the human brain.

Participating Federal Agencies and Departments[edit]

Departments and agencies with nanotechnology R&D budgets:

  • Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC)
  • Department of Commerce (DOC)
    • Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS)
    • Economic Development Administration (EDA)
    • National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)
    • U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO)
  • Department of Defense (DOD)
  • Department of Energy (DOE)
  • Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS)
    • Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
    • National Institutes of Health (NIH)
    • National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)
  • Department of Homeland Security (DHS)
  • Department of Transportation (DOT)
    • Federal Highway Administration (FHWA)
  • Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
  • National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)
  • National Science Foundation (NSF)
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)
    • Agricultural Research Services (ARS)
    • Forest Service (FS)
    • National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA)

Other participating departments and agencies:

  • Department of Education (DOEd)
  • Department of the Interior
    • U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)
  • Department of Justice (DOJ)
    • National Institute of Justice (NIJ)
  • Department of Labor (DOL)
    • Occupation Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)
  • Department of State (DOS)
  • Department of the Treasury (DOTreas)
  • Intelligence Community (IC)
  • Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC)
  • U.S. International Trade Commission (USITC)

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "National Nanotechnology Initiative (NNI): Supplement to the President's FY 2015 Budget" (PDF). Office of Science and Technology Policy. March 2014. Retrieved 28 March 2014.
  2. ^ Dr. Mihail C. Roco: Senior Advisor for Nanotechnology, National Science Foundation Archived 11 April 2010 at the Wayback Machine at NSF Directorate of Engineering website
  3. ^ M.C. Roco, R.S. Williams, and P. Alivisatos. Nanotechnology Research Directions: Vision for Nanotechnology R&D in the Next Decade. National Science and Technology Council, White House 1999, reprinted Springer 2000,
  4. ^ M.C. Roco, C.A. Mirkin, and M.C. Hersam. Nanotechnology Research Directions for Societal Needs in 2020: Retrospective and Outlook, Springer 2011,
  5. ^ M.C. Roco, W.S. Bainbridge, B. Tonn, and G. Whitesides. Convergence of Knowledge, Technology, and Society: Beyond Convergence of NANO-BIO-INFO-COGNITIVE Technologies, Springer, 2013,
  6. ^ "Nanotechnology Timeline |". Retrieved 5 December 2020.
  7. ^ NNI Supplement to the President's Budget for Fiscal Year 2015
  8. ^ "NNI Vision, Goals, and PCAs |". Retrieved 5 December 2020.
  9. ^ a b c "Nanotechnology Signature Initiatives (NSIs) |". Retrieved 5 December 2020.
  10. ^ "Nanotechnology-Inspired Grand Challenges |". Retrieved 5 December 2020.

External links[edit]