NNI Program Component Area (PCA) Definitions

Program Component Areas are the NNI budget categories that are used to report annual NNI budgets to Congress and the public, per the requirements of the 21st Century Nanotechnology R&D Act. See the NNI Supplements to the President's Budget for more information.

PCA 1. Foundational Research. The foundational research under PCA 1 includes: (1) discovery and development of fundamental knowledge pertaining to new phenomena in the physical, biological, chemical, and engineering sciences that occur at the nanoscale; (2) elucidation of scientific and engineering principles related to nanoscale structures, processes, and mechanisms; and (3) research aimed at discovery and synthesis of novel nanoscale and nanostructured materials and at a comprehensive understanding of the properties of nanomaterials ranging across length scales, and including interface interactions. This PCA encompasses basic research aimed at addressing national needs and priorities as well as undirected research aimed at expanding the frontiers of science and technology.

PCA 2. Nanotechnology-Enabled Applications, Devices, and Systems. PCA 2 covers research and development that applies the principles of nanoscale science and engineering to create novel devices and systems, or to improve existing ones. It includes the incorporation of nanoscale or nanostructured materials and the processes required to achieve improved performance or new functionality. This PCA includes metrology, scale up, manufacturing technology, and nanoscale reference materials and standards. To meet this definition, the enabling science and technology must be at the nanoscale, but the applications, systems, and devices themselves are not restricted to that size.

PCA 3. Research Infrastructure and Instrumentation. PCA 3 supports the establishment and operation of user facilities and networks, acquisition of major instrumentation, and other activities that develop, support, or enhance the Nation’s physical, data, and cyber infrastructure for nanoscale science, engineering, and technology. It includes R&D pertaining to the tools needed to advance nanotechnology research and commercialization, including informatics tools and next-generation instrumentation for characterization, measurement, synthesis, and design of materials, structures, devices, and systems.

PCA 4. Education and Workforce Development. PCA 4 supports research on and development of curriculum and other tools for effective training of students at all stages of education (from K-12, to community colleges and vocational schools, through doctoral and postdoctoral education) in the skills needed to succeed in the nanotechnology workforce. While student support to perform research is captured in other categories, dedicated educational efforts ranging from outreach to advanced training are included here as resources supporting the nanotechnology workforce. PCA 4 also includes support for programs, partnerships, or personnel exchanges among government, academia, and industry to develop the desired workforce skills and competencies. This PCA further encompasses mechanisms for public engagement and informal education.

PCA 5. Responsible Development. PCA 5 covers a broad range of activities to ensure responsible development of nanotechnology. Activities include research and development directed at understanding the potential environmental, health, and safety impacts of nanotechnology, and at assessing, managing, and mitigating identified risks. Research addressing the broad implications of nanotechnology for society is also captured in this PCA. Responsible development encompasses efforts to benefit society addressing topics such as social, economic, ethical, and legal considerations, as well as issues related to diversity, equity, inclusion, and access. Research integrity, safety, and reproducibility are also captured in PCA 5.