WASHINGTON, D.C., Nov. 24 -- The US House of Representatives gave final approval last week on a plan to invest nearly $4 billion in research and development in nanotechnology. The bill is now cleared for approval by the President, who is expected to sign it, said its sponsor, Science Committee Chairman Sherwood Boehlert (R-NY).
"The idea behind this bill is simple yet powerful -- the American economy will grow bigger if America's scientists and engineers focus on things that are smaller," Boehlert said. "The US is the leader in nanotechnology and must remain so as this new field starts remaking the marketplace. The nanotechnology program will be a model of government, university, industry cooperation and of coordination, interdisciplinary research and public involvement."
Nanotechnology is the manipulation of materials at the atomic scale. The National Science Foundation has estimated that nanotechnology applications may be worth more than $1 trillion in the global economy in little more than a decade.
Rep. Mike Honda (D-CA), who cosponsored the bill, said, "Experts agree that investing in innovation is the key to a vibrant US manufacturing base and continued generation of new jobs. Nanotechnology is one of the areas of innovation most worthy of investment, as it has the potential to create entirely new industries and radically transform the basis of competition in others."
The proposed legislation would put the President's National Nanotechnology Initiative into law and authorizes $3.7 billion over the next four years for the program. It requires the creation of research centers, education and training efforts, research into the societal and ethical consequences of nanotechnology and efforts to transfer technology into the marketplace. It also includes a series of coordination offices, advisory committees and regular program reviews to oversee how taxpayer money is being spent.
The National Association of Manufacturers, Semiconductor Industry Association, Association for Computing Machinery, Computing Research Association, Nanobusiness Alliance, Association of American Universities, National Association of State Universities and Land-Grant Colleges, Alliance for Science and Technology Research in America, Institute of Electronics and Electrical Engineers, IBM, Intel and Hewlett-Packard have all endorsed the bill. It can be viewed at the Science Committee Web site, www.house.gov/science.
For more information on the federal government's nanotechnology research initiatives, visit: www.nano.gov.