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Nanotechnology Research and Development Infrastructure

The National Nanotechnology Initiative has a robust research infrastructure with user facilities and multidisciplinary research and education centers across the United States.
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Responsible Development of Nanotechnology

As a goal of the NNI since inception, responsible development includes understanding potential environmental, health, and safety (EHS) implications of nanomaterials as well as the ethical, legal, and societal implications (ELSI) of nanotechnology.
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Nanotechnology Commercialization

NNI agencies are collaborating with industry to facilitate the commercialization of federally funded nanotechnology discoveries.
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Nanotechnology Signature Initiatives and Nanotechnology-Inspired Grand Challenges

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.
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Nanotechnology Research and Development Infrastructure

Under the National Nanotechnology Initiative, several participating agencies have built or supported the development of user facilities and have established and developed multidisciplinary research and education centers across the United States.
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Responsible Development of Nanotechnology

With the advent of new technologies, including nanotechnology, one should consider both potential benefits and unintended risks to human health and the environment that might accompany development.
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Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC)

The CPSC is charged with protecting the public from unreasonable risks of injury or death from thousands of types of consumer products under the agency's jurisdiction. The CPSC is committed to protecting consumers and families from products that pose a fire, electrical, chemical, or mechanical hazard or can injure vulnerable poulations like children and the elderly.

As more consumer products employ nanotechnology, CPSC has examined the potential health effects of nano-enabled consumer products.
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As more consumer products employ nanotechnology, concerns are increasing regarding potential health effects associated with human exposure to this technology. There is a growing use of compounds or materials that have been produced using nanotechnologies that directly manipulate matter at the atomic level and fabrication of materials that could not have been produced in the past. Although these nanomaterials may have the same chemical composition as non-nanomaterials, at the nanoscale they  may demonstrate different physical and chemical properties, and behave differently in the environment and the human body. Members of the U.S. Congress have stated that they recognize nanotechnology as a new technology utilized in the manufacture of consumer products, and that they expect the Commission to review the utilization and safety of its application in consumer products consistent with the Commission’s mission. In support of that mission, CPSC requested additional funding in 2011 to collect data on nanomaterials use in consumer products. Since then, the CPSC budget has grown substantially to support EHS R&D and related projects.

SPOTLIGHT:

The CPSC formally joined the NNI budget crosscut for the first time in 2011. Planned programs include working with other agencies on (1) developing protocols to assess the potential release of airborne nanoparticles from various consumer products and to determine their contributions to human exposure; (2) determining whether nanomaterials can be used for performance improvement in sports safety equipment such as helmets and kneepads without creating other health hazards; (3) expanding consumer product testing using scientifically credible protocols to evaluate the exposure potential from nanosilver in consumer products, with special emphasis on exposures to young children; and (4) working across agencies to assure that shared common public health concerns are met in research studies to determine potential impacts on the public health of nanomaterial use in consumer products.

Key contacts: 

Dr. Treye Thomas
Leader, Chemical Hazards Program
301-504-7738, tthomas@cpsc.gov

Media Contact: Office of Information and Public Affairs
Alexander Filip, Deputy Director of Public Affairs
301-504-7783, AFilip@cpsc.gov

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

EPA leads the nation's environmental science, research, education and assessment efforts to protect human health and the environment.

EPA leads the nation's environmental science, research, education and assessment efforts to protect human health and the environment.
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EPA promotes the safe development, use, and disposal/recycling of products that contain manufactured nanoscale materials. Sustainability is a theme that runs through the EPA nanotechnology research program. Using green chemistry and life-cycle assessment approaches, EPA is investigating how nanomaterials behave in the environment, how nanomaterial properties may be modified or exposure controls implemented to minimize and manage potential risks from products containing nanomaterials. EPA’s research activities are coordinated across the U.S. Federal Government through the NNI and internationally within the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). Key links:

SPOTLIGHT:

Since 2001, EPA has played a leading role in supporting research and setting research directions to develop environmental applications for nanotechnology as well as to understand the potential human health and environmental implications of nanotechnology. The agency has provided such leadership through its Science to Achieve Results (STAR) grant program and through contracts to small businesses under its Small Business Innovation Research program, both of which have developed a cadre of highly skilled researchers and engineers with expertise in the area of environmental nanotechnology. EPA’s own research laboratories are conducting targeted research to inform decisions related to nanotechnology and the environment.

Key contacts: 

Communications
Ann Brown, National Program Communication Director, Office of Research and Development
919-541-7818, brown.ann@epa.gov

Funding opportunities: 
<p>Grants and Fellowship Information<br /> <a href="http://www.epa.gov/epahome/grants.htm">http://www.epa.gov/epahome/grants.htm</a><br /> EPA Partnership Programs <a href="http://www.epa.gov/partners/">http://www.epa.gov/partners/</a><br /> Contracting with EPA <a href="http://www.epa.gov/epahome/contracts.html">http://www.epa.gov/epahome/contracts.html</a><br /> For extramural research <a href="http://www.epa.gov/ncer/nano">http://www.epa.gov/ncer/nano</a></p>

U.S. Department of Agriculture, National Institute of Food and Agriculture (USDA/NIFA)

The National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) is an agency within the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), created by congress in 2008 to replace the former Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service (CSREES), which had been in existence since 1994. NIFA's mission is to advance knowledge for agriculture, the environment, human health and well-being, and communities by supporting research, education, and extension programs in the Land-Grant University System and other partner organizations.

NIFA's mission is to advance knowledge for agriculture, the environment, human health and well-being, and communities by supporting research, education, and extension programs in the Land-Grant University System and other partner organizations.
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NIFA’s current priority areas include (1) global food security and hunger, (2) climate change, (3) sustainable energy, (4) childhood obesity, and (5) food safety. Nanoscale science and nanotechnology has demonstrated relevance and great potential to enable revolutions in broad agriculture and food systems, including plant production and products; animal health, production, and products; food safety, nutrition, health, and wellness; renewable energy, natural resources, and environment; agriculture systems and technology; and agriculture economics and rural communities. The agency’s nanotechnology research has broadly contributed to the NNI PCAs, with primary emphasis on fundamental nanoscale phenomena and processes (PCA 1), nanomaterials (PCA 2), nanoscale devices and systems (PCA 3), and environment, health, and safety (PCA 7).

SPOTLIGHT:

In particular, NIFA’s nanoscale science and nanotechnology research has focused its investment on detection and intervention technologies for enhancing food safety and agricultural biosecurity; effective and safe delivery of bioactives in functional foods for improving human health and wellness; and product traceability, identity preservation, and tracking to embrace the continuous advancement of information technology for better decision making through the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI), NIFA’s flagship competitive grants program. AFRI also has supported research on perceptions of the public and other stakeholders regarding the perceptions and acceptance of nanotechnology applications in food and agriculture.

Key contacts: 

Dr. Hongda Chen, National Program Leader, Bioprocess Engineering/Nanotechnology
202-401-6497, HCHEN@nifa.usda.gov

Funding opportunities: 
<p>NIFA Grants Information -- <a href="http://www.nifa.usda.gov/fo/funding.cfm">http://www.nifa.usda.gov/fo/funding.cfm</a><br /> NIFA Grant Request for Applications (RFAs) -- <a href="http://www.csrees.usda.gov/funding/rfa_list.html">http://www.csrees.usda.gov/funding/rfa_list.html</a></p>

National Institutes of Health (NIH)

NIH is the nation’s steward of medical and behavioral research. Its mission is science in pursuit of fundamental knowledge about the nature and behavior of living systems and the application of that knowledge to extend healthy life and reduce the burdens of illness and disability.

NIH's mission is science in pursuit of fundamental knowledge about the nature and behavior of living systems and the application of that knowledge to extend healthy life and reduce the burdens of illness and disability.
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Nanotechnology can produce tools that help NIH advance opportunities to develop novel diagnostics and therapeutics, as well as tools enabling research at cellular and sub-cellular levels. The emergence of nanotechnology has opened a new era of design-driven research into the development of unique 3D nanomaterials and nanostructures with the potential for significant clinical impact across a range of diseases and disorders. The NIH continues to expand its support for nanoscale engineering of multifunctional systems for drug and gene therapy, nanostructures for tissue engineering, and a variety of other biomedical applications, in addition to research tools that aid in understanding the underlying causes of diseases.

SPOTLIGHT:

Progress continues in development of sensors that are both selective and highly sensitive, for early diagnosis of disease (when disease is easiest to treat). Multifunctional nanoparticles are being developed to deliver conventional or novel therapeutics directly to the specific tissues or cells in the body that are affected by disease, sparing healthy cells from drug side-effects. Nanotechnology-based research tools are being used to better understand the causes and course of diseases, and the effects of genetics and environment on individual patients. NIH plays a substantial role in developing understanding of how to design nanoparticles so they can be safe to use both for manufacturing and for medical treatments. Commercialization is facilitated through funding of SBIR/STTR grants and programs at the various NIH institutes that encourage universities and companies to collaborate, and by providing resources and expertise to test novel formulations for safety and biological activity.

Key contacts: 

Marin P. Allen, Ph.D., Deputy Associate Director for Communications and Public Liaison and
Director of Public Information
301-496-5787
marin_allen(at)nih.gov

Lori Henderson, Ph.D.
Program Director, NCI Clinical Trials
hendersonlori@mail.nih.gov
 

Funding opportunities: 
<p>Available through NIH&rsquo;s National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering.<br /> <a href="http://www.nibib.nih.gov/FundingMain">http://www.nibib.nih.gov/FundingMain</a></p>

National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)

The mission of the NIOSH is to generate new knowledge in the field of occupational safety and health and to transfer that knowledge into practice for the betterment of workers. To accomplish this mission, NIOSH conducts scientific research, develops guidance and authoritative recommendations, disseminates information, and responds to requests for workplace health hazard evaluations.

The mission of the NIOSH is to generate new knowledge in the field of occupational safety and health and to transfer that knowledge into practice for the betterment of workers.
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NIOSH is the leading Federal agency conducting research and providing guidance on the occupational safety and health implications and applications of nanotechnology. This research focuses NIOSH's scientific expertise, and its efforts, on answering the questions that are essential to understanding these implications and applications:

  • How might workers be exposed to nano-sized particles in the manufacturing or industrial use of nanomaterials?
  • How do nanoparticles interact with the body’s systems?
  • What effects might nanoparticles have on the body’s systems?

SPOTLIGHT:

NIOSH contributes to nanotechnology research by: being at the forefront of U.S. research to understand the occupational health implications of nanomaterials; offering interim guidelines for working with nanomaterials, consistent with the best scientific knowledge; and publishing new findings and recommendations as its research advances. Notably through its document, “Approaches to Safe Nanotechnology” http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/docs/2009-125/. NIOSH is also involved with Nanotechnology Internationally (http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/global-collaborations/activity.html). In addition, NIOSH is providing support to the “Good Nano Guide” hosted on the nanoHUB (https://nanohub.org/groups/gng/). NIOSH’s findings and recommendations have been incorporated by several other agencies in the U.S. and internationally, including the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the International Organization for Standardization.

Key contacts: 

Dr. Charles L. Geraci, Jr., Associate Director, Nanotechnology Research Center
513-533-8339, CGeraci@cdc.gov

Fred Blosser, Public Affairs Officer
202-245-0645, fbb0@cdc.gov

Funding opportunities: 
<p>NIOSH Office of Extramural Programs<br /> <a href="http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/oep/default.html">http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/oep/default.html</a></p> <p>&nbsp;</p>

National Science Foundation

The National Science Foundation supports nanoscale science and engineering in all disciplines through its research and education activities as a means to promote discovery and innovation and integrate various fields of research. There are some cross Directorate and non-Directorate mechanisms, as well.

The National Science Foundation supports nanoscale science and engineering in all disciplines through its research and education activities as a means to promote discovery and innovation and integrate various fields of research.
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NSF supports upstream research and education in all areas of nanoscale science and engineering, leading to a flexible infrastructure and educational pipeline at the national level. It also advances nanotechnology innovation through a variety of translational research programs and by partnering with industry, states, and other agencies. NNI funding provides a source of increased interdisciplinary activity for about 5,000 active awards that represent more than 10% of the overall NSF research portfolio  About 10,000 students and teachers are educated and trained in nanoscale science and engineering each year. In FY ?, more than 100 small businesses were funded to perform research and product development in nanotechnology through NSF’s SBIR/STTR programs. NSF’s nanotechnology research is supported primarily through grants to individuals, teams, and centers at U.S. academic institutions.

http://www.nsf.gov/crssprgm/nano/

SPOTLIGHT:

In 2009 The National Science Foundation (NSF) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) made awards to establish two Centers for the Environmental Implications of Nanotechnology (CEIN). The centers, led by UCLA and Duke University, will study how nanomaterials interact with the environment and with living systems, and will translate this knowledge into risk assessment and mitigation strategies useful in the development of nanotechnology.

http://www.ceint.duke.edu/
http://cein.cnsi.ucla.edu/pages/

 

 

Key contacts: 

Bobbie Mixon, Office of Legislative and Public Affairs
bmixon@nsf.gov

Dr. Khershed Cooper, Program Director, Nanomanufacturing
khcooper@nsf.gov

 

Funding opportunities: 
<p><a href="http://www.nsf.gov/crssprgm/nano/">http://www.nsf.gov/crssprgm/nano/</a></p>

U.S. Intelligence Community

The United States Intelligence Community (IC) is a cooperative federation of 16 separate government agencies that work, separately and together, to conduct intelligence activities considered necessary for the conduct of foreign relations and the protection of national security. Member organizations of the IC include intelligence agencies, military intelligence, and civilian intelligence and analysis offices within federal executive departments. The IC is led by the Director of National Intelligence (DNI), who reports to the President of the United States.

The United States Intelligence Community (IC) is a cooperative federation of 16 separate government agencies that work, separately and together, to conduct intelligence activities considered necessary for the conduct of foreign relations and the protection of national security.
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The Office of the Director of National Intelligence has created an organization that will increase the speed of technical developments and infuse synergy into all 16 intelligence agencies so they can recapture their ability to surprise adversaries. The Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA) is modeled after the military’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). Nanotechnology is a key area of research focus.  For intelligence personnel, making devices very, very small, concealable and secure is an imperative.

SPOTLIGHT:

The National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) R&D program focus emphasizes developments in electronics, structural materials, and power generation and energy storage devices:

  • In electronics, the program emphasizes large-scale carbon nanotube (CNT)-based memory, CNT-based logic devices, and CNT field-effect transistors. CNT-based electronics foundry materials and processes are completely compatible with operations in a standard silicon foundry.
  • For structural components, the program focuses on use of carbon nanotube threads and yarns to produce conductive wires, impact- and bullet-proof panels, support struts, electromagnetic suppression boxes, and thermal conductive and thermal-electrical converters. Conductive wire research proposes to exceed the conductivity of copper wires while removing up to 80% of the weight of a signal or power harness.
  • Nanotechnology R&D for power generation and energy storage devices emphasizes topics such as quartz nanorods as an improved solar cell cover glass, indium arsenide quantum dot technology for higher-efficiency solar cells, and carbon nanotube electrodes and additives to improve the performance and safety of lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries.
Key contacts: 

Matthew Cobert, Nanotechnologies Branch Chief
cobertma@nro.mil

Funding opportunities: 
<p>NRO Director&rsquo;s Innovation Initiative (DII), <a href="https://acq.westfields.net"; target="_blank">https://acq.westfields.net</a></p>

United States International Trade Commission (USITC)

The United States International Trade Commission (USITC) is an independent, quasi judicial Federal agency with broad investigative responsibilities on matters of trade. The Commission (1) administers U.S. trade remedy laws within its mandate in a fair and objective manner; (2) provides the President, The U.S. Trade Representative and Congress with independent analysis, information, and support on matters of tariffs, international trade, and U.S. competitiveness; and (3) maintains the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTS).

USITC is an independent, quasi judicial Federal agency with broad investigative responsibilities on matters of trade.
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The USITC serves as a federal resource where trade data and other trade policy-related information are gathered and analyzed. The information and analysis are provided to the President, the Office of the United States Trade Representative, and the Congress to contribute to the development of sound and informed U.S. trade policy. The USITC makes most of its information and analysis available to the public to promote understanding of international trade issues.

Key contacts: 

Elizabeth R. Nesbitt, International Trade Analyst for Biotechnology and Nanotechnology
Office of Industries
T: 202-205-3355
elizabeth.nesbitt@usitc.gov

Peg O'Laughlin
Office of External Relations
T: 202-205-1819
margaret.olaughlin@usitc.gov

U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service (USDA/FS)

Established in 1905, the Forest Service manages 193 million acres of publically-owned National Forests and grasslands. It has three major subunits: the National Forest System; State and Private Forestry; and Research and Development (R&D). Its R&D mission is to develop and deliver knowledge and innovative technology to improve the health and use of the Nation’s forests and rangelands.

Established in 1905, the Forest Service manages 193 million acres of publically-owned National Forests and grasslands.
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Nanotechnology offers an efficient and effective means to capitalize on a major national asset to make forest-derived materials the “materials of choice for the 21st century.” Wood is made up of nanodimensional building blocks that: (1) have strength properties greater than Kevlar® and piezoelectric properties equivalent to quartz, (2) can be manipulated to produce photonic structures, (3) are remarkably uniform in size and shape, (4) possess self-assembly properties, and (5) can be renewably produced in quantities of tens of millions of tons.

FS R&D is developing internal nanotechnology research capacities to effectively partner with industry, academia, and other federal entities and developing the precompetitive science and technology critical to the economic use of nanotechnology-enabled, forest-based materials and products. Current FS R&D focus areas are to: 1) efficiently liberate and produce quantities of cellulose nanocrystals and nanofibrils for research and scale up; 2) characterize cellulose nanomaterials; 3) develop the means to efficiently modify the functionality of cellulose nanomaterial surfaces; 4) develop the enabling science and technologies needed to capture the performance properties of cellulosic nanomaterials and produce nano-enabled macroscale composites; and 5) develop multiscale modeling for nano-enable composites.

SPOTLIGHT:

The U.S. forest products industry, through the American Forest & Paper Association Agenda 2020 Technology Alliance, signed a memorandum of understanding with the NSET Subcommittee to form a Cooperative Board for Advancing Nanotechnology (CBAN). The industry is in a unique position to tap the huge potential nanotechnology provides. The industry can upgrade its processes and produce new high-performance consumer products, and become a producer and developer of novel, sustainable nanomaterials to replace non sustainable materials such as those from fossil fuels.

Key contacts: 

Dr. World Nieh, National Program Leader, Forest Products and Utilization, USDA Forest Service
T: 703-605-4197
wnieh@fs.fed.us

Dr. Theodore H. Wegner, Assistant Director, USDA Forest Service, Forest Products Laboratory
Office:  (608) 231-9434
twegner@fs.fed.us

Funding opportunities: 
<p>Forest Service Research &amp; Development Programs<br /> <a href="http://www.fs.fed.us/research/#">http://www.fs.fed.us/research/#</a></p>

Assessing Human and Environmental Impacts of Nanotechnology

Date: 
Mon, 02/23/2009

Workshop Explores State of Scientific Research

(Bethesda, Md-2/23/09)  As part of the National Nanotechnology Initiative’s (NNI) ongoing strategy to coordinate nanotechnology-related environmental, health, and safety research (EHS) research, Federal, industrial and academic scientists will explore current progress of research on human and environmental exposure at a two day workshop.

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Federal, industrial and academic scientists will explore current progress of research on human and environmental exposure at a two day workshop.