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

Nanoscale materials have been used for over a millenium. For example, nanoscale gold was used in stained glass in Medieval Europe and nanotubes were found in blades of swords made in Damascus. However, ten centuries passed before high-powered microscopes were invented, allowing us to see things at the nanoscale and begin working with materials at the nanoscale.

Nanotechnology as we now know it began about 30 years ago, when our tools to image and measure extended into the nanoscale. Around the turn of the millennium, government research managers in the United States and other countries observed that physicists, biologists, chemists, electrical engineers, optical engineers, and materials scientists were working on overlapping issues emerging at the nanoscale. In 2000, the U.S. National Nanotechnology Initiative (NNI) was created to help these researchers benefit from each other’s insights and accelerate the technology’s development.

To learn more, see What is Nanotechnology?