In pursuit of these goals, the NNI has defined seven program component areas (PCAs) that provide a framework by which the participating agencies can better direct, coordinate, and report on their activities.4 As well as supplying coordinating mechanisms, the NNI also provides a forum for research agencies to discuss crosscutting science and policy issues related to the development of nanotechnology.
Notwithstanding the extensive and detailed charge for this study (see Appendix A); the many layers to and multiple participants in the operation of the NNI (see Figure 1-1 in Chapter 1); the fact that data on NNI-related activities, if reported at all, are not reported in a self-consistent manner across the federal agencies; and the breadth and diversity of the science that falls under the umbrella of the NNI, the committee carried out a review of the NNI that focused on assessing the NNI’s progress toward meeting its stated goals and outlining the NNI’s achievements to date. The data gathered in the benchmarking and economic impact parts of the study as detailed in Chapter 2 and Chapter 3, respectively, and presentations made at the committee’s workshop on scientific accomplishments gave valuable insight into the positive effects of the NNI. The committee’s analysis and the supporting information gathered during this study are summarized here and provided in more detail in the main body of the report.
Established to enhance dialog and coordination across nanoscale R&D programs at federal agencies, the NNI has facilitated the following developments,5 among others:
Establishment by the NSET Subcommittee of four interagency working groups—Nanotechnology Environmental and Health Implications (NEHI); Industry Liaison; Manufacturing; and Nanotechnology Public Engagement—that have promoted cross-agency collaboration such as joint work in manufacturing technologies by the Department of Defense (DOD) and the National Science Foundation (NSF), and in explosive vapor detection by the Department of Energy (DOE) and DOD, to name a few, and have facilitated communication among agency officials who might otherwise not have had the opportunity to meet and discover shared interests;
Development of the NSF National Nanotechnology Infrastructure Network, an integrated partnership of user facilities at 13 campuses across the United States whose mission is to enable rapid advances in nanotechnology