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Northeastern and the National Nanotech Coordination Office

November 4, 2016

The National Nanotechnology Coordination Office (NNCO) has released the new 2016 National Nanotechnology Initiative Strategic Plan. During the previous three-year planning cycle Northeastern and it's NSF Center for High-rate Nanomanufacturing (CHN) received significant funding from NNI agencies to support R&D and various efforts to enhance the commercialization of products derived from NNI agency-funded activities. Along with Sustainability, Health, and Security, Nano-scale research is one of the targeted areas for Northeastern's development as an international center for research. Because of this, additional funding to Northeastern is expected. For example, Prof. Ahmed Busnaina, the Director of the CHN, is focused on products based on advanced technologies for printing nanoparticles using a patented nanoscale offset printing system called NanoOPS that was developed in partnership with private-sector firms.

As reported in a NNCO press release, the NNI, a collaboration of twenty Federal agencies and departments, has enabled groundbreaking discoveries that have revolutionized science; established world-class facilities for the characterization of nanoscale materials and their fabrication into nanoscale devices; educated tens of thousands of individuals from undergraduate students to postdoctoral researchers; and fostered the responsible incorporation of nanotechnology into commercial products. NNI investments together with those of industry have transitioned nanotechnology discoveries into a variety of commercial products including apparel, consumer electronics, sporting goods, and automobiles.

Nanotechnology is poised to revolutionize the way we diagnose and treat disease, improve our health and fitness, and enable human exploration of Mars. Looking toward the future, nanotechnology is moving from a fundamental research area to an enabling technology that can lead to new materials, devices, and systems that will profoundly impact our quality of life, economy, and national security. The strong collaborations built under the NNI will be critical in sustaining an ecosystem that invests in the next breakthroughs in nanoscale materials and devices but also promotes the effective and responsible transition of nanotechnology discoveries from lab to market.

This strategic plan builds upon the collaborations and prior accomplishments of the NNI to develop and nurture that ecosystem and to move the NNI into its next phase. This document represents a consensus among NNI agencies on the high-level goals and priorities of the initiative and on specific objectives to be pursued over at least the next three years. The plan provides the framework under which individual agencies conduct their own mission-specific nanotechnology programs, coordinate these activities with those of other NNI agencies, and collaborate.