Nanotechnology Signature Initiatives (NSIs)

To accelerate nanotechnology development in support of national priorities and innovation strategy, OSTP and the NNI member agencies have identified areas ripe for significant advances through close and targeted program-level interagency collaboration. This collaboration includes Nanotechnology Signature Initiatives (NSIs), which 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. 

NNI agencies participating in the NSIs coordinate efforts and stimulate existing and emerging projects to explore areas specific to each NSI. 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. Also, 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 each NSI. 


NSI: Water Sustainability through Nanotechnology - Nanoscale Solutions for a Global-Scale Challenge

This NSI addresses the pressing technical challenges related to water quality and quantity, including increasing water availability, improving the efficiency of water delivery and use, and enabling the next-generation water monitoring systems.


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

This NSI is exploring the considerable potential for nanotechnology to open the door to the development of inexpensive, portable devices that can rapidly detect, identify, and quantify biological and chemical substances.


NSI: Sustainable Nanomanufacturing - Creating the Industries of the Future

This NSI establishes manufacturing technologies for economical and sustainable integration of nanoscale building blocks into complex, large-scale systems by supporting product, tool, and process design informed by and adhering to the overall constraints of safety, sustainability, and scalability.


NSI: Nanoelectronics for 2020 and Beyond

This NSI aims to discover and use novel nanoscale fabrication processes and innovative concepts to produce revolutionary materials, devices, systems, and architectures to advance the field of nanoelectronics.


Past Nanotechnology Signature Initiatives:

The NSI portfolio is intended to be dynamic, and initiatives are retired when they have achieved the goals set out in their white papers and/or a vibrant community has emerged that can support scientific advances without the spotlight afforded by the NSI mechanism. Retired NSIs are:


NSI Highlights

The NSIs provide a spotlight on critical areas and define the shared vision of the participating agencies for accelerating the advancement of nanoscale science and technology, from research through commercialization. By combining the expertise, capabilities, and resources of appropriate Federal agencies, the NSIs accelerate research, development, and insertion, and overcome challenges to the application of nanotechnology-enabled products.

Each NSI combines the focused efforts of a number of contributing Federal agencies with related missions that are committed to coordinating research and implementing strategies to achieve the goals defined for the NSIs, and to updating and prioritizing those goals as the research progresses. Individual agency-funded or mission-specific programs have benefited from improved awareness of complementary activities at other agencies and have been developed in the context of broader Federal activities. 

While it is challenging to describe the full impact of the NSIs on nanotechnology research, development, and commercialization, the documents below provide examples of key accomplishments and highly successful collaborations that each of these initiatives has produced: