U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, member of the Armed Services Committee, today announced Congressional passage of approval for an increased focus on nanotechnology being done in conjunction with the University at Albany's College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering. Senator Gillibrand fought to continue nanotechnology research she helped initiate in the Fiscal Year 2012 Defense bill with an additional $50 million of federal funds in Fiscal Year 2103. Albany's NanoCollege would need to compete with other institutions for the funding to establish a center. The legislation now heads to President Obama to be signed into law.
"This would be a great investment for the College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering of the University at Albany and our military," said Senator Gillibrand. "It is critical that nanotechnology research and development is done right here in the U.S. and there is no place better to lead the way than the UAlbany NanoCollege. Like other innovations that have made our country competitive, the Defense Department's innovation can have the additional benefit of spurring commercial investments and helping to sustain a domestic industry that not only serves the Defense Industrial Base but also translates into American competitiveness."
A 2010 President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology report said that between 2003 and 2008, U.S. public and private investments in nanotechnology only grew at 18 percent per year compared to 27 percent per year throughout the world. While the U.S. is a global leader in nanotechnology, other countries like China are quickly catching up.
In recent years, China has become increasingly interested in the technology, naming it one of its four "science Megaprojects" that have the central purpose of closing the scientific research gap with the U.S. by 2020. Chinese nanotechnology patents have already surpassed the number of U.S. applications, and researchers have estimated that the Chinese government has already invested $400 million from 2002 to 2007 in the technology, with that funding expected to rise considerably in the coming years.
Federal defense spending must be authorized before it can be appropriated. The House of Representatives approved the NDAA conference report last night, with the Senate voting for its approval today.