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The National Nanotechnology Coordination Office leads two major efforts to enhance coordination and collaboration among the participating agencies of the National Nanotechnology Initiative and to engage with the public: Nanotechnology Signature Initiatives and Nanotechnology-Enabled Grand Challenges.

Nanotechnology Signature Initiatives are multiagency initiatives designed to focus a spotlight on technology areas of national importance that may be more rapidly advanced through enhanced interagency coordination and collaboration. Currently, there are five such initiatives, focusing on water, sensors, nanomanufacturing, nanoelectronics, and the nanoinformatics.

Nanotechnology-Enabled Grand Challenges are ambitious but achievable goals that harnesses nanoscience, nanotechnology, and innovation to solve important national or global problems and have the potential to capture the public’s imagination. The NNI currently has one such challenge, to create a new type of computer that can proactively interpret and learn from data, solve unfamiliar problems using what it has learned, and operate with the energy efficiency of the human brain.