NSI: Nanotechnology for Sensors and Sensors for Nanotechnology -- Improving and Protecting Health, Safety, and the Environment

Overview of NSI Activities

Nanotechnology-enabled sensors are providing new solutions in physical, chemical, and biological sensing that enable increased detection sensitivity, specificity, multiplexing capability, and portability for a wide variety of health, safety, and environmental assessments. The Sensors NSI addresses both the opportunity of using nanotechnology to advance sensor development and the challenges of developing sensors to keep pace with the increasingly widespread use of engineered nanomaterials.

NNI agencies participating in the Sensors NSI coordinate efforts and stimulate existing and emerging projects to explore the use of nanotechnology for the development and commercialization of nanosensors. Agency representatives hold periodic teleconferences to address pressing technical questions and keep each other informed of ongoing and planned activities of mutual interest. These regular exchanges have led to tangible results such as revised solicitations based on the knowledge of other agencies’ priorities, needs, and plans; cross-agency participation in review of proposals and grantee meetings; and the identification of collaborators for specific project needs. In addition, the ongoing research dialogues inform agency members of opportunities for collaboration in the formulation of both agency-specific and joint funding announcements that support the overall goals of the initiative.

An important priority remains engaging with stakeholders to identify the barriers they face in the development and commercialization of nanosensors. The Sensors NSI serves as a focal point for relevant stakeholder communities and the public to address opportunities and barriers through the Request for Information (RFI) mechanism, town hall discussions, and community meetings. Common themes continue to be identified through these inputs and interactions. For example, the needs for improved stakeholder awareness, communication, and collaboration at the convergence of testing and operational standards, and for access to test and fabrication facilities, have been particularly highlighted in the stakeholder interaction activities of the Sensors NSI.