Nanoscience and nanotechnology are among the fastest-growing fields in science and engineering, leading to breakthroughs in energy, medicine, environmental science, biotechnology and other fields. One of the hallmarks of these fields is an interdisciplinary approach that integrates traditional subjects such as chemistry, physics and biology in order to study and exploit nanoscale phenomena. In fact, materials with nanoscale dimensions can have dramatically different properties than larger (and smaller) counterparts, with features that blur quantum and classical physics. All these features continue to fascinate scientists and engineers; there is growing recognition that nanotechnology is poised to become a major part of the world economy.
One particularly interesting aspect of nanotechnology is its growing global impact. The United States was an early leader in nanotechnology, catalyzing the development of the National Nanotechnology Initiative to implement national policies.While the United States remains a key leader, particularly in terms of innovation, other parts of the world are also making rapid progress and investing heavily in these areas. The European Union has made nanotechnology a top scientific priority, as evidenced by initiatives such as the €1 billion Graphene Flagship project sponsored by the European Commission. The rapid growth of nanotechnology in Asia and its global competitiveness are also striking.
Another defining feature of nanoscience research is that the distance between fundamental discovery and application is unusually short. Indeed, the distinction between nanoscience and nanotechnology is even more artificial than in other fields. As a result, we are currently seeing a large number of nanotechnology-based spin-out companies where nanoscience graduates are highly employable.
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