On October 27, 2020, the U.S. National Nanotechnology Initiative published the National Nanotechnology Initiative Supplement to the President’s 2021 Budget (Supplement), which serves as the annual report for NNI, called for under the provisions of the 21st Century Nanotechnology Research and Development Act. According to the Supplement, the President’s 2021 budget requests more than $1.7 billion for NNI, with an increased investment in the foundational research intended to lead to discoveries that will advance a wide range of areas. Cumulatively totaling more than $31 billion (including the 2021 request), the Supplement states that “this support reflects the importance of investments that advance the fundamental understanding of and ability to control matter at the nanoscale, as well as the translation of that knowledge into technological breakthroughs that benefit the American people.” The Supplement notes that past research has led to applications in areas as diverse as consumer electronics, energy, water purification, aerospace, automotive, infrastructure, sporting goods, textiles, agriculture, and medicine. Current efforts are using nanotechnology in the development of vaccine candidates, sensors for testing strategies, and preventive measures such as masks, filters, and antimicrobial coatings.
According to the Supplement, the NNI investments in 2019 and 2020 and those proposed in 2021 reflect a sustained emphasis on broad, fundamental research in nanoscience. The President’s Budget includes nanotechnology investments intended to further the progress of NNI “to advance a world-class research portfolio, facilitate commercialization of nanotechnology-enabled applications, support a dynamic infrastructure and skilled workforce, and ensure responsible development of nanotechnology.” The Supplement states that these efforts “underpin key Industries of the Future by, for example, using artificial intelligence (AI) to design nanostructured materials, devices, and systems; developing specialized nanoscale computing hardware for AI systems; utilizing the NNI infrastructure and atomically precise nanoscale methods to manufacture quantum components for sensing, communication, and computing; and enabling sustainable nanomanufacturing such as cellular nanobiomanufacturing.”