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Grant Information

This project is supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant # SES-0531146.

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Grant Abstract:

NanoConnection to Society will achieve five major tasks: pilot development of NanoEthicsBank; pilot development of NanoEnvironBank; conceptualization of NanoConnection.net; design and validation of NanoIndicator series; and studies of patent flow & distribution. Taken together these tasks will provide valuable knowledge about nanotechnology to help decision-makers, including the general public, make evidence-based decisions on how the US can use the technology for the benefit of citizens as employees and consumers, with appropriate consideration of potential risks. They will also lay the groundwork for a fully operable NanoConnection.net that would provide one-stop connection and integration for the new and existing databases (e.g., NanoBank.org) and many other features to be developed in this project.

The intellectual merit of this program is based on the creation of new knowledge in four areas: (a) the synthesis and extension of existing knowledge about ethical issues in nanotechnology research and applications; proactive and reactive responses to these issues by firms, universities, professional groups, and other organizations; and the resilience and responsivity of the system to emergent problems and concerns; (b) the synthesis and extension of existing knowledge about environmental, health, safety, and security impacts of nanotechnology; (c) documentation of the levels and changes over time of the geographic distribution within the US and among countries of nanotechnology-related patents, their inventors, and assignees using innovative measures of the quality of individual patents; and (d) development and validation of the empirical relevance for policy, research, and public information of NanoIndicators which will cover nano-entrepreneurship and commercialization, public trust, nano-workforce, and rhetorical indicators of community and commercialization. A core set of NanoIndicators will be automated and maintained on a near real-time basis.

The broader impacts of this program will flow from creation of an information infrastructure, which will inform and bridge the gaps in knowledge that exist among disciplines regarding nano-scale technology. This infrastructure will both produce new information and improve the flow of information among people and organizations, helping to meet the growing demand for information about nanotechnology in policy making and economic investments as well as useful information in implementing responsible nanotechnology. This should strengthen the ability of the United States to continue to lead in developing and making appropriate commercial use of nanotechnology, taking into account identified societal risks and opportunities.