|The President of the United States
The White House
Washington, DC 20500
Dear Mr. President:
Your Committee of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) stronglyendorses
the establishment of a National Nanotechnology Initiative (NNI),beginning
in Fiscal Year 2001, as proposed by the National Science andTechnology
Council (NSTC). Our endorsement is based on a technicaland budgetary
review of a comprehensive report prepared by the NSTC Committeeon Technology's
Interagency Working Group on Nanoscience, Engineering andTechnology
We believe that the Administration should make the NNI a top priority. America's
continued economic leadership and national security in the 21stcentury
will require a significant, sustained increase in nanotechnologyR&D
over the next 10 to 20 years. We strongly endorse the robustfunding
and the research strategy that has been proposed by the NSTC'sIWGN.
Nanotechnology is the science and engineering of assembling materialsand
components atom by atom, or molecule by molecule, and integrating theminto
useful devices. It uses new discoveries, new eyes (high resolutionmicroscopes)
and hands (laser tweezers) to work, at the scale of a nanometer(one
billionth of a meter ten thousand times smaller than the diameterof
a human hair). Nanotechnology thrives from modern advances inchemistry,
physics, biology, engineering, and materials research. We believe
that nanotechnology will have a profound impact on our economyand society
in the early 21st century, perhaps comparable to that of informationtechnology
or of cellular, genetic, and molecular biology. Nanotechnologyalso
promotes the convergence of biological, chemical, materials and physicalsciences
and engineering disciplines.
Nanotechnology is the first economically important revolution in scienceand
technology (S&T) since World War II that the United States hasnot
entered with a commanding lead. Federal and industrial supportof
R&D in the United States for this field already is significant,but
Europe and Japan are each making greater investments than the UnitedStates
is, generally in carefully focused programs. Now is the timeto
In our view, the Federal government, together with academia and industry,plays
a vital role in advancing nanotechnology. This role will requirea new,
bold national initiative coordinating focused R&D in the decadeahead.
Today nanoscale S&T is roughly where the fundamental R&Don which
transistors are based was in the late 1940s or early 1950s. Most
of the work currently required is still fundamental, with a much longertime
horizon than what most industries can support. The NNI is balancedwell
across fundamental research, grand challenges, centers and networksof
excellence, research infrastructure, and education and training.
We believe that the science, technology, applications, products, andprograms
catalyzed by the NNI will inspire a new generation of young Americanswith
exciting new opportunities and draw them to careers in S&T. Potentially
the NNI will help provide for a better world through advancesin environmental
technologies, lowering of energy consumption, and advancesin medical
diagnostics and therapeutics.
The NNI is an excellent multi-agency framework to ensure U.S. leadershipin
this emerging field that will be essential for economic and nationalsecurity
leadership in the first half of the next century. We recommendthat
progress toward NNI goals be monitored annually by an appropriateexternal
body of experts, such as the National Research Council.
A brief summary of our review of the IWGN report, National Nanotechnology
Initiative Leading to the Next Industrial Revolution, is enclosed. We
hope that our recommendations will be helpful as you consider your prioritiesfor
Federal investments. We look forward to discussing this reviewwith
you, with members of your Administration, and with members of Congress.