Nanotechnology and You

Nanotechnology is changing the world and the way we live, creating scientific advances and new products that are smaller, faster, stronger, safer, and more reliable. After about 20 years of steady progress in nanotechnology research and development, scientists in the United States and around the world have a much clearer picture of how to create nanoscale materials with properties never before envisioned. Scientists and engineers are exploring exciting new discoveries at the nanoscale every day.

Benefits and Applications

Nanotechnology research will have a significant, positive impact on our world.

Environmental, Health, and Safety Issues

The NNI and its member agencies are committed to the responsible development of nanotechnology.

Ethical, Legal, and Societal Issues

The potential societal, ethical, and legal implications of nanotechnology are an important NNI issue.

Federal Legislation & Congressional Info

Congress and the Executive Branch fund nanotechnology R&D and establish policies and regulations that affect nano-enabled products and materials.

International Engagement

Examples of multi- and bi-lateral cooperation between the U.S. and foreign governments.

Standards for Nanotechnology

Globally accepted nanotechnology standards are vital to continuing progress in research and development and eventual commercialization.

Nanotechnology Fact

Nanotechnology is used in many commercial products and processes, for example, nanomaterials are used to manufacture lightweight, strong materials for applications such as boat hulls, sporting equipment, and automotive parts. Nanomaterials are also used in sunscreens and cosmetics.

Nanostructured products are used to produce space-saving insulators which are useful when size and weight is at a premium—for example, when insulating long pipelines in remote places, or trying to reduce heat loss from an old house. Nanostructured catalysts make chemical manufacturing processes more efficient, by saving energy and reducing waste.

In healthcare, nanoceramics are used in some dental implants or to fill holes in diseased bones, because their mechanical and chemical properties can be “tuned” to attract bone cells from the surrounding tissue to make new bone. Some pharmaceutical products have been reformulated with nanosized particles to improve their absorption and make them easier to administer. Opticians apply nanocoatings to eyeglasses to make them easier to keep clean and harder to scratch and nanoenabled coatings are used on fabrics to make clothing stain-resistant and easy to care for.

Almost all high-performance electronic devices manufactured in the past decade use some nanomaterials. Nanotechnology helps build new transistor structures and interconnects for the fastest, most advanced computing chips.

All told, nanotechnologies are estimated to have impacted $251 billion across the global economy in 2009. This is estimated to grow to $2.4 trillion by 2015 (Lux Research, 2010).

For more information, see Benefits and Applications.