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National Nanotechnology Investment in the FY 2004 Budget Request

M.C. Roco, NSF Chair, National Science and Technology Council's subcommittee on Nanoscale Science, Engineering and Technology (NSET)

The emerging fields of nanoscale science, engineering, and technology -the ability to work at the molecular level, atom by atom, to create large structures with fundamentally new properties and functions-are leading to unprecedented understanding and control over the basic building blocks and properties of all natural and man-made things. The FY 2004 funding request for nanoscale science, engineering and technology (in brief, nanotechnology) research and development (R&D) in ten federal departments and independent agencies is summarized in Table I-10. This investment is known as the National Nanotechnology Initiative (NNI)2. The initiative emphasizes long-term, fundamental research aimed at discovering novel phenomena, processes, and tools; addressing NNI Grand Challenges for key areas of application; supporting new interdisciplinary centers and networks of excellence including shared user facilities; supporting research infrastructure; and addressing research and educational activities on the societal implications of advances in nanoscience and nanotechnology. Funding is provided on competitive basis with other programs and within NNI.


Priorities in FY 2004: The FY 2004 President's request of about $849 million ($792 million initially reported on Feb. 3, 2003) for federal investment in nanoscale science, engineering and technology, a 9.7 percent increase over the FY 2003 request, is shown in Table I-10. The FY 2003 nanoscale R&D budget request is approximately $774 million. The actual NNI budget in FY 2002 was $697 million. The budget decreases in the FY 2004 request at NASA and DOD may be explained by the reassignment of applied nanotechnology projects to the respective areas of relevance instead of NNI. Roughly 65 percent of the funding proposed under the NNI supports academic research. NNI coordinates 17 federal departments and independent agencies. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is the latest addition.

The initiative focuses on long-term research on the manipulation of matter at the atomic and molecular levels, giving us an unprecedented ability to create building blocks for advanced products such as new classes of devices as small as molecules and machines as small as human cells. This research could lead to continued improvement in electronics for information technology; higher-performance, lower-maintenance materials for manufacturing, defense, transportation, space, and environmental applications; accelerated, biotechnical applications in medicine, health care, and agriculture; and extending the limits of sustainable development. In FY 2004, priority in R&D funding will be given to: (1) innovative nanotechnology solutions to biological-chemical-radiological-explosive detection and protection; (2) research to enable the nanoscale as the most efficient manufacturing domain; (3) nano-biosystems; (4) development of instrumentation and standards; (5) the education and training of the new generation or workers for the future industries; and (6) partnerships to enhance industrial participation in the nanotechnology revolution. The convergence of nanotechnology with information technology, modern biology and social sciences will reinvigorate discoveries and innovation in almost all areas of the economy. Areas of growth are nanotechnology research for energy conversion, and agriculture and food systems.

The NNI invests in five complementary modes of support: fundamental research across disciplines, visionary R&D activities identified as "grand challenges," research and networks of excellence, infrastructure, and societal and educational implications of nanoscience and nanotechnology.3

Collaborative activities: The National Science and Technology Council (NSTC) Subcommittee on Nanoscale Science, Engineering and Technology (NSET) will coordinate joint activities that create synergies between the individual agencies in a variety of topics and modalities of collaboration. The coordination will identify the most promising research directions; fund complementary/synergistic fields of research that are critical for the advancement of the nanoscience and engineering field; develop a balanced infrastructure (portfolio of programs, development of new specific tools, instrumentation, simulation infrastructure, standards for nanoscale); correlate funding activities for centers and networks of excellence; cost-share high cost R&D activities; develop a broad workforce trained in the many aspects necessary to nanotechnology; study the diverse, complex implications on society such as effect of nanostructured material manufacturing on environment and effect of nanodevices on health; and avoid unnecessary duplication of efforts. The coordination also will address NNI management issues, interaction with nanotechnology regional alliances, and international activities. Projects with societal and educational implications will reach an estimated investment of about $30 million in FY 2004 (about $15 million is primarily directed to societal implications, education and training; the remaining $15 million includes education contributions from research assistantships and fellowships). Annual investment for projects addressing nanoscale processes in the environment and implications of nanotechnology on environment are estimated to be approximately $50 million (about $25 million is primarily addressed to environmental issues; the remaining includes nanotechnology projects that have relevance to environment and are part of the core R&D programs.)


The FY 2004 request is about $249 million, a $28 million increase over FY 2003 request, and $45 million over FY 2002 (see Table 1).

The Nanoscale Science and Engineering (NSE) Group coordinates the NNI activities. Each directorate has two representatives in the NSE Group. The Chair of the Group is the NSF representative in NSEC, and its current chair.4 The NSF investment will be expanded to develop and strengthen critical fields and to establish the science and engineering infrastructure and workforce needed to exploit the opportunities presented by new capabilities. Support will be focused on interdisciplinary research and education teams, national science and engineering centers, exploratory research and education projects, and education and training.

Table 1. NSF Directorate Budgets for Nanoscale Science and Engineering
(in millions of dollars)

NSF Directorate FY 2001
FY 2002
FY 2003
Biological Sciences 2.3 3.0 5.0
Computer and Info. Sci. and Eng. 10.2 11.1 15.1
Engineering 86.3 94.4 106.9
Geosciences 6.8 7.5 7.9
Mathematical and Physical Sci. 93.1 103.9 110.4
Social and Behavioral Sci 0.0 1.1 1.5
Education and Human Resources 0.0 0.2 0.2
Others (user facilities) 5.0 --- ---
Total, NSF Nanoscale Sci. and Eng. 203.7 221.2 249.0

Note: Totals may not add due to rounding.

The investment will expand a wide range of research and education activities in this priority area, including approximately 20 nanotechnology research and education centers, which focus on electronics, biology, optoelectronics, advanced materials and engineering. The National Nanotechnology Infrastructure Network will be established with first year funding of about $14 million.

Long-term objectives include laying a foundation of fundamental research for NNI Grand Challenges; ensuring that U.S. institutions will have access to a full range of nano-facilities; enabling access to nanotechnology education for students in U.S. colleges and universities; and catalyzing the creation of new commercial markets that depend on three-dimensional nanostructures. This should result in the development of completely new technologies that contribute to improvements in health, advanced agriculture, conservation of materials and energy, and sustainability of the environment. This investment will be expanded in FY 2004 to develop and strengthen critical fields and to establish the science and engineering infrastructure and workforce needed to exploit the opportunities presented by these new capabilities. Converging technologies from the nanoscale, with a focus on improving human performance, will be included. In addition to single-investigator research, support will be focused on interdisciplinary research and education teams, national science and engineering centers, exploratory research and education projects, and education and training.

NSF's planned investment for Nanoscale Science and Engineering in FY 2004 will have five programmatic foci: 1) Fundamental Research and Education, $151.7 million; 2) Grand Challenges, approximately $10.1 million; 3) Centers and Networks of Excellence, approximately $45.9 million; 4) Research Infrastructure, approximately $28.70 million; and 5) Societal and Educational Implications of Science and Technology Advances, approximately $12.6 million. The education and training activities will be extended to undergraduate and K-12 education. The National Nanotechnology Infrastructure Network (NNIN) for user facilities, development of new instrumentation, and training will be established with an initial funding of $14 million per year.


The FY 2004 request is $222 million, $20 million less than FY 2003 (see Table I-10). The principal DOD participants in the NNI are the Directorate for Defense Research and Engineering (DDR&E), the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), the Air Force, the Army and the Navy. While the NNI is a fundamental science (DOD's "6.1" funding category) based initiative, one of the principal NNI goals is to transition science discovery into new technology. The DOD structures its S&T investment into basic research ("6.1"), applied research ("6.2") and advanced technology development ("6.3"); the latter two focus on transitioning science discovery into innovative technology. In FY 2002, DOD began tracking and encouraging the transitions into these applied programs.

The University Research Initiative program in FY 2001 added 16 nanoscience projects as part of a Defense University Research Initiative on Nanotechnology (DURINT) competition and another five nanoscience projects under the traditional competition; the projects carry a five-year commitment in FY 2004. DARPA would have a significant contribution in the nanoscience/nanotechnology investment portfolio in FY 2004. The Air Force is looking to increase its investment in nanoscience. It is anticipated that its basic research activities will expand research in nanocomposites and hybrid polymer-inorganic nanocomposites; self-assembly and nanoscale processing for the realization of 3-D optical and electronic circuitry; highly efficient space solar cells; nanoenergetics-understanding the factors that control reactivity and energy release in nanostructured systems; nanostructures for highly selective sensors and catalysts; as well as nanoelectronics, nanomagnetics and nanophotonics, nanostructured coatings, ceramics and metals. The Army has allocated $10 million of basic research funds for the Institute for Soldier Nanotechnologies at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). The purpose of this center of excellence is to develop unclassified nanometer-scale science and technology solutions for the soldier. A single university will host this center, which will emphasize revolutionary materials research toward advanced soldier protection and survivability capabilities. The Naval Research Laboratory has initiated a Nanoscience Institute to enhance multidisciplinary thinking and critical infrastructure.

Nanoscience shows great promise for arrays of inexpensive, integrated, miniaturized sensors for chemical / biological / radiological / explosive (CBRE) agents, for nanostructures enabling protection against agents, and for nanostructures that neutralize agents. The recent terrorist events motivate accelerated insertion of innovative technologies to improve the national security posture relative to CBRE. DOD will play a major role in this multiagency effort.5


In FY 2004, the total request is $197 million, including for defense programs (see Table I-10). This is an increase of $64 million over the FY 2003 request. Fundamental research to understand the properties of materials at the nanoscale would be increased in three areas: synthesis and processing of materials at the nanoscale, condensed matter physics, and catalysis. In addition, the FY 2004 request includes a larger investment for centers. Construction will proceed on two Nanoscale Science Research Centers (NSRC), and engineering and design will continue on others. NSRCs are user facilities for the synthesis, processing, fabrication, and analysis of materials at the nanoscale. NSRCs were conceived within the context of the NSTC Interagency Working Group on Nanoscale Science, Engineering, and Technology as part of the DOE contribution to the National Nanotechnology Initiative. They involve conventional construction of a simple laboratory building, usually sited adjacent to or near an existing DOE Basic Energy Sciences (BES) synchrotron or neutron scattering facility. The research activity will also benefit by new work proposed in FY 2004 by the Office of Advanced Scientific Computing Research (ASCR) in the area of computational nanoscale science engineering and technology. ASCR will develop the specialized computational tools for nanoscale science.


The FY 2004 request is $70 million, $5 million over the FY 2003 request. NIH would receive nanoscience and nanotechnology grant applications under existing and renewed programs. These programs are managed individually by the Institutes and Centers, with peer review conducted for the most part by the NIH Center for Scientific Review. Overall nanotechnology program coordination occurs through the NIH Bioengineering Consortium (BECON).6 NIH plans to increase its focus on biological and medical applications of nanotechnology.


The FY 2004 NASA NNI request is approximately $31 million (see Table I-10). In addition to the $22 million in both Basic Nanoscience and Nanotechnology Research, NASA plans to invest approximately an additional $9 million in the area of Nanotechnology Science and Applications. These investments are embedded within several program areas within the Office of Biological and Physical Research and the Office of Aerospace Technology (OAT). The Basic NASA Nanoscience Program comprises Bio-Molecular Systems Research, which is a joint NASA/NCI (National Cancer Institute) Initiative, and the second is in Biotechnology and Structural Biology. The OAT Program integrates Nanotechnology development in three areas: (1) Materials and Structures, (2) Nanoelectronics and Computing, and (3) Sensors and Spacecraft Components. A major focus at NASA is to advance and exploit the zone of convergence between nanotechnology, biotechnology, and information technology.

Collaboration is particularly important for NASA, since it recognizes the importance of importing technologies from other federal agencies, particularly NSF, DOD, the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and the Department of Energy (DOE). NASA will focus primarily on NASA-unique needs; examples are low power devices and high strength materials that perform with exceptional autonomy in the hostile space environment. NASA has increased university participation in nanotechnology programs by competitively awarding four University Research, Engineering and Technology Institutes (RETIs) in FY 2003. Each award is for about $3 million a year for five years with the option to extend award for up to an additional five years.


The FY 2004 request is $62 million, a $7 million decrease from the FY 2003 request (see Table I-10). Projects in the following areas will be funded: molecular electronics; quantum computing; nanomagnetodynamics; nanotribology; and autonomous atom assembly. Approximately half of the total allocated funds will be used to continue current internal efforts in several of these areas and half will be used to leverage existing efforts with external partners. The funds are distributed, using a competitive process, across the NIST Laboratories for enabling infrastructural measurement, standards, and data for nanomagnetics, nanocharacterization, and new information technologies. Areas of focus are: (a) Nanomagnetics research for measurement and standards for current and near-term applications of nanotechnology in the semiconductor, communications, and health care industries; (b) Nanocharacterization research to produce standards and tools for visualization and characterization at the nanoscale, which are in high demand by a broad base of U.S. industries; (c) Research to provide fundamental measurements needed for future generations of information technology hardware that will be needed to replace semiconductor electronics technology in about a decade. In order to leverage internal efforts, NIST will develop stronger strategic alliances and collaborations with universities, businesses, and other government agencies that possess leading expertise in nanotechnology. NIST plans to direct half of the new nanotechnology funding to these external organizations to conduct much of the specific work required to meet the goals of this initiative and avoid developing costly, complex in-house capabilities that may only be used once. NIST has a large range of collaborations with industry.


FY 2004 research is expected to be similar to FY 2003 at approximately $5 million. EPA's research is organized around the risk assessment/risk management paradigm. Research on human health and environmental effects, exposure, and risk assessment is combined to inform decisions on risk management. Research on environmental applications and implications of nanotechnology can be addressed within this framework. Nanotechnology may offer the promise of improved characterization of environmental problems, significantly reduced environmental impacts from "cleaner" manufacturing approaches, and reduced material and energy use. The potential impacts of nanoparticles from different applications on human health and the environment will be an area of focus.


The FY 2004 request is approximately $10 million, about 10 times larger than FY 2003 request. USDA conducts its research both extramurally through the partnership between the Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service (CSREES) and the Land Grant Universities (LGUs), and in-house at Agriculture Research Service (ARS) national laboratories. The CSREES also provides leadership and financial supports in education and outreach in all the states and territories of the U.S. through the LGUs.


The FY 2004 research request is approximately $2 million for the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to address one of the agency's most critical missions today: ensuring the security of our nation's air transportation system by improving the detection of explosives and chemical/biological weapons. R&D programs aim to detect explosives and hazardous chemicals at the nanometer level and to characterize the interactions of explosives on material surfaces at this scale. Further research will yield sensor technologies that are cheaper and lighter yet far more sensitive, selective, and reliable than current systems. The NNI activities proposed for FY 2004 will build on current efforts to expedite the fielding of far more accurate and effective security technology at our nation's airports.


In FY 2004 the budget request is steady at $1.4 million. The DOJ National Institute of Justice (NIJ) has two separate projects areas that incorporate nanotechnology-DNA Research ($1.0 million) and Development and Chemical and Biological Defense ($0.4 million). The DNA Research and Development program will continue basic research as well as the demonstration of chip-based or micro-device technologies to analyze DNA in forensic applications. Nanotechnology has or will be a significant part of the device under development that will eventually be integrated into the current crime laboratory processes and protocols to analyze forensic DNA samples. The Chemical and Biological Defense program is developing a wearable, low-cost device to provide warning of exposure to unanticipated chemical and biological hazards in sufficient time for its wearer to take effective protective measures. The current approach relies on an enzymatic reaction. It is based on vapor exposure of an immobilized enzyme surface. Evolving nanotechnology may be used to address limitations of the enzymatic approach.

Table I-10a. Agency Participation and Level of Funding in the NNI: The President's NNI Requests as originally published by OMB on Feb. 3, 2004, were $742 and $792 million in FY 2003 and FY 2004, respectively. On Feb. 4, 2004, several agencies subsequently identified additional items within their budget requests on as falling under the purview of NNI, and the updated budgets here.

Federal Department or Agency FY 2002
FY 2003
(Current Plan)
FY 2004
National Science Foundation 204 221 249
Department of Defense 224 243 222
Department of Energy 89 133 197
National Institutes of Health 59 65 70
NIST 77 69 62
NASA 35 33 31
Environmental Protection Agency 6 6 5
Homeland Security (TSA) 2 2 2
Department of Agriculture 0 1 10
Department of Justice 1 1 1
Total 697 774 849

Table I-10b. NNI centers and networks of excellence

Center Name Institution
Nanoscale Systems in Information Technologies, NSEC (Nanoscale Science and Engineering Center) Cornell University
Nanoscience in Biological and Environmental Engineering Rice University
Integrated Nanopatterning and Detection, NSEC Northwestern University
Electronic Transport in Molecular Nanostructures, NSEC Columbia University
Nanoscale Systems and their Device Applications, NSEC Harvard University
Directed Assembly of Nanostructures, NSEC Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
Nanobiotechnology, Science and Technology Center Cornell University
Institute for Soldier Nanotechnologies MIT
Center for Nanoscience Innovation for Defense UC Santa Barbara
Nanoscience Institute Naval Research Laboratory
Institute for Cell Mimetic Space Exploration UCLA
Institute for Intelligent Bio-Nanomaterials & Structures for Aerospace Vehicles Texas A&M
Bio-Inspection, Design and Processing of Multi-functional Nanocomposites Princeton
Institute for Nanoelectronics and Computing Purdue

Table I-10c. NNI R&D user facilities

Center Name Institution
National Nanofabrication Users Network (NNUN)* Cornell University
Howard University
Stanford University
Pennsylvania State University
Network for Computational Nanotechnology Purdue University
University of Illinois
Stanford University
University of Florida
University of Texas, El Paso
Northwestern University
Morgan State University
Center for Functional Nanomaterials Brookhaven National Laboratory
Center for Integrated Nanotechnologies SNL and LANL
Center for Nanophase Maerials Sciences Oak Ridge National Laboratory
Center for Nanoscale Materials Argonne National Laboratory
Molecular Foundry Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

* Note: The NNUN predates the NNI, but is now continuing under NNI funding.



2. See details in "NNI - R&D Supporting the Next Industrial Revolution", Supplemental Report to the President's FY 2004 Budget, Washington, D.C. (estimated to be released in March 2003).

3. The FY 2003 program solicitation can be found at (NSF 02-148), with three modes of research support: Nanoscale Interdisciplinary Research Teams, Nanoscale Exploratory Research, Nanoscale Science and Engineering Centers, and Nanotechnology Undergraduate Education.

4. The DOD nanotechnology budgets and programs are identified at or

5. The NIH nanoscience program announcements are available from and