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PCAST Letter to the President Endorsing a National Nanotechnology

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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 (IWGN).

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 act.

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.

President's Committee of Advisors
on Science and Technology
1600 Pennsylvania Ave, N.W
Washington, DC 20502

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National Nanotechnology Initiative - PCAST

PCAST Review of the Proposed National Nanotechnology Initiative

PCAST Letter to the President Endorsing a National Nanotechnology