That's one reason why the project is compiling on its new Web site a searchable inventory of government-supported research addressing the EHS implications of nanotechnology.
"There has been considerable debate over the necessary level of investment in nanotechnology health and environmental risk-related research," said Project Director David Rejeski. "People have been batting numbers like a tennis ball back and forth over a net. Is the 'right' number to spend annually $100 million; is it $40 million? This inventory helps to change the game from tennis to chess.
"We need to see the entire research portfolio, every investment and every gap, and be able strategically to move the appropriate amount of funding into the right areas. These strategic investments need to happen at an international level, and result in partnerships between governments and between government and industry."
The inventory, according to the project, is the best available, detailed and scientifically classified collection of data from nanotechnology risk-related research that exists either inside or outside the government, according to the project.
The inventory largely contains U.S. government-supported research, but also includes research from different countries and regions, including the European Union, Great Britain, Canada, Germany and Taiwan. It will be regularly updated as more information becomes available.
Nanotechnology Projected to be a $1 Trillion Business
Nanoscience is the study of the fundamental principles of molecules and structures with at least one dimension roughly between 1 and 100 nanometers. A nanometer is one-billionth of a meter. A human hair measures approximately 100,000 nanometers across. Nanotechnology is the application of these nanostructures into useful nanoscale devices.
Some estimate that more than 700 nanotechnology products ranging from cosmetics to car bumpers currently are being sold. The National Science Foundation predicts that the global marketplace for goods and services using nanotechnologies will grow to $1 trillion by 2015.
The Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies was launched in 2005 by the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars and the Pew Charitable Trusts. Its mission is to help business, governments and the public anticipate and manage the possible human and environmental implications of nanotechnology.