Tag Archives: NNI

(US) Contest: Design a nanotechnology-themed superhero

This contest is open to students enrolled in US high schools or home-schooled and the deadline is Feb. 2, 2016.

High school students can lend their creativity to engineering, science and nanotechnology. Credit: NSF

High school students can lend their creativity to engineering, science and nanotechnology. Credit: NSF

Here are more details from the US National Science Foundation (NSF) Nov. 19, 2015 news release,

A brand-new competition, awarding finalists the opportunity to present their entries at the 2016 USA Science & Engineering Festival [held April 16 & 17, 2016] and compete for cash prizes, opens today for high school students interested in science, engineering and superpowers.

Generation Nano: Small Science, Superheroes is sponsored by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the National Nanotechnology Initiative (NNI). The competition invites individual students enrolled in U.S. high schools, or who are home-schooled, to submit an original idea for a superhero who uses unique nanotechnology-inspired “gear,” such as a vehicle, costume or tool.

Generation Nano encourages students to think big–which, in this case, means super small–when pondering their hero’s gear: shoelaces that decode secret radio waves, nanotechnology-infused blood cells that supercharge adrenaline or clothing that can change color to camouflage its wearer.

“The wonders of nanotechnology are inspiring an increasing number of young students to pursue science and engineering,” said NSF Senior Advisor for Science and Engineering Mihail C. Roco. “The Generation Nano competition recognizes and channels that interest, while giving students the chance to showcase their creativity at a national level.”

“I’m just thrilled about Generation Nano,” said Lisa Friedersdorf, deputy director of the National Nanotechnology Coordination Office. “This competition has the potential to excite students about science and introduce them to the novel world of nanotechnology. I can’t wait to see the submissions.”

Competition details:

  • Students must submit a written entry explaining their superhero and nanotechnology-driven gear, along with a one-page comic or 90-second video.
  • Cash prizes are $1,500 for first place, $1,000 for second place and $500 for third place.
  • Finalists will showcase their comic or video at the 2016 USA Science and Engineering Festival in Washington, D.C. Final-round judging will take place at the festival.
  • Submissions are due by midnight on Feb. 2, 2016.

Through nanotechnology applications like targeted drugs, self-assembled nanodevices, molecular motors and other innovations, students never have to endure a radioactive spider bite to realize their full potential.

Visit the Generation Nano competition website for full eligibility criteria, entry guidelines, timeline and prize information.

The Generation Nano website offers resources for generating comics, accessing images and audio on this page.

For inspiration, you can take a look at my May 11, 2012 posting which features a description of the nanotechnology-enabled Extremis storyline in the Iron Man comic book series in the context of plans for the Iron Man 3 movie.

For more inspiration from 2012, there was a special exhibit at the Science Gallery in Dublin, Ireland featuring six superheroes created for the exhibit (my Sept. 14, 2012 posting; scroll down about 25% of the way to where I discuss the Magical Materials; Unleash Your Superpowers exhibit).

Good luck!

US National Nanotechnology Initiative launches its Fall 2015 Nanotechnology Signature Initiative webinar series

A Sept. 21, 2015 news item on Nanowerk announces a new series of webinars from the US National Nanotechnology Initiative (NNI), Note: The National Nanotechnology Coordination Office is part of the NNI,

The National Nanotechnology Coordination Office (NNCO) will host a series of webinars from October to December 2015 sponsored by Federal agencies participating in the Nanotechnology Knowledge Infrastructure (NKI) and the Nanotechnology for Sensors and Sensors for Nanotechnology (Sensors) Signature Initiatives. This webinar series will include an introduction to nanoinformatics, an overview of nanosensor technology and applications, a regulatory case study for the development of nanosensors, and an overview of nanoinformatics applications. This series of webinars will culminate in a joint NKI and Sensors NSI webinar on data quality.

You can find more details about the upcoming webinars on the NNI’s Public Webinars webpage,

Introduction to Nanoinformatics

  • ​Date and Time: Friday, October 2, 2015, at 12pm – 1 pm EDT
  • Hosted by the NKI NSI

Nanosensor Technologies and Applications

  • ​Date and Time: Friday, October 16, 2015, at 12 pm – 1:30 pm EDT
  • Hosted by the Sensors NSI
  • Registration begins September 22, 2015

A Regulatory Case Study for the Development of Nanosensors

  • ​Date and Time: Tuesday, November 3, 2015, at 12 pm – 1 pm EST
  • Hosted by the Sensors NSI

Applications of Nanoinformatics

  • ​Date and Time: Thursday, November 12, 2015, at 12 pm – 1 pm EST
  • Hosted by the NKI Signature Initiative

All Hands on Deck for Improving Data Quality

  • ​Date and Time: Friday, December 11, 2015, at 12 pm – 1 pm EST
  • Jointly hosted by the Sensors and the NKI  NSIs

My most recent posting on the topic of nanoinformatics (the topic of the first webinar in this series) is an Aug. 28, 2015 posting about the establishment of the nanoinformatics field in the US by a Duke University project.

New US government nano commercialization effort: nanosensors

The latest announcement (this one about nanosensors) from the US National Nanotechnology Coordination Office (NNCO) on behalf of the US National Nanotechnology (NNI) gets a little confusing but hopefully I’ve managed to clarify things.

It starts off simply enough, from a June 22, 2015 news item on Azonano,

The National Nanotechnology Coordination Office (NNCO) is pleased to announce the launch of a workshop report and a web portal, efforts coordinated through and in support of the Nanotechnology Signature Initiative ‘Nanotechnology for Sensors and Sensors for Nanotechnology: Improving and Protecting Health, Safety, and the Environment’ (Sensors NSI). Together, these resources help pave the path forward for the development and commercialization of nanotechnology-enabled sensors and sensors for nanotechnology.

A June 19, 2015 NNCO news release on EurekAlert, which originated the news item, provides details about the report, the new portal, and the new series of webinars,

The workshop report is a summary of the National Nanotechnology Initiative (NNI)-sponsored event held September 11-12, 2014, entitled ‘Sensor Fabrication, Integration, and Commercialization Workshop.’ The goal of the workshop was to identify and discuss challenges that are faced by the sensor development community during the fabrication, integration, and commercialization of sensors, particularly those employing or addressing issues of nanoscale materials and technologies.

Workshop attendees, including sensor developers and representative from Federal agencies, identified ways to help facilitate the commercialization of nanosensors, which include:

  • Enhancing communication among researchers, developers, manufacturers, customers, and the Federal Government agencies that support and regulate sensor development.
  • Leveraging resources by building testbeds for sensor developers.
  • Improving access of university and private researchers to federally supported facilities.
  • Encouraging sensor developers to consider and prepare for market and regulatory requirements early in the development process.

In response to discussions at the workshop, the NNI has also launched an NSI Sensors web portal to share information on the sensors development landscape, including funding agencies and opportunities, federally supported facilities, regulatory guidance, and published standards. Ongoing dialogue and collaboration among various stakeholder groups will be critical to effectively transitioning nanosensors to market and to meeting the U.S. need for a reliable and robust sensor infrastructure.

On Thursday June 25, 2015, from noon to 1 pm EDT, NNCO will host a webinar to summarize the highlights from the 2014 ‘Sensor Fabrication, Integration, and Commercialization Workshop’ and to introduce the newly developed Sensors NSI Web Portal. The webinar will also feature a Q&A segment with members of the public. Questions for the panel can be submitted to webinar@nnco.nano.gov from June 18 through the end of the webinar at 1 pm EDT on June 25, 2015.

Here’s the portal for what they’ve called the NSI [Nanotechnology Signature Initiative]: Nanotechnology for Sensors and Sensors for Nanotechnology — Improving and Protecting, Health Safety, and the Environment, also known as, Sensors NSI Web Portal.

Here’s the report titled, “Sensor Fabrication, Integration, and Commercialization Workshop [2014].”

As for the first webinar in this new series, from the National Signature Webinar Series: Resources for the Development of Nanosensors webpage,

The National Nanotechnology Coordination Office (NNCO) will host a webinar to summarize the highlights from the September 2014 Sensor Fabrication, Integration, and Commercialization Workshop and to introduce the newly developed Sensors NSI Web Portal, which was created to share information on the sensors development landscape, including Federal program and funding opportunities, federally supported facilities, regulatory guidance, and published standards.

On Thursday, June 25, 2015, from 12 noon to 1 pm EDT, Federal panelists will begin the event with a discussion of the findings from the Sensor Fabrication, Integration, and Commercialization Workshop, as well as a demonstration of the resources available on the Sensors NSI Portal.  [emphasis mine]

Federal panelists at the event will include:

This event will feature a Q&A segment with members of the public. Questions for the panel can be submitted to webinar@nnco.nano.gov from June 18 through the end of the webinar at 1 pm on June 25, 2015. The moderator reserves the right to group similar questions and to omit questions that are either repetitive or not directly related to the topic. Due to time constraints, it may not be possible to answer all questions.

You can find the link to register at the end/bottom of the event page.

The NNCO does have one other Public Webinar series, ‘NNCO Small- and Medium-sized Business Enterprise (SME) Webinar Series’. They have archived previously held webinars in this series. There are no upcoming webinars in this series currently scheduled.

US White House Office of Science and Technology Policy issues a Nanotechnology Grand Challenges request for information

First, there was the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Grand Challenges, then there was some sort of Canadian government Grand Challenges, and now there’s the US government Nanotechnology-Inspired Grand Challenges for the Next Decade.

I find it fascinating that ‘Grand Challenges’ have become so popular given the near certainty of at least one defeat and the possibility the entire project will fail. By definition, it’s not a challenge if it’s an easy accomplishment.

Enough musing, a June 18, 2015 news item on Azonano announces the US government (White House Office of Science and Technology Policy [OSTP]) request for information (RFI), which has a deadline of July 16, 2015,

The National Nanotechnology Coordination Office (NNCO) is pleased to highlight an important Request for Information (RFI) issued today by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) seeking suggestions for Nanotechnology-Inspired Grand Challenges for the Next Decade: ambitious but achievable goals that harness nanoscience, nanotechnology, and innovation to solve important national or global problems and have the potential to capture the public’s imagination.

A June 17, 2015 NNCO news release further describes the RFI,

The RFI can be found online at https://federalregister.gov/a/2015-14914  [blog posting] and is discussed in a White House blog post at https://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2015/06/17/call-nanotechnology-inspired-grand-challenges. Responses must be received by July 16, 2015, to be considered.

As explained by Dr. Michael Meador, Director of the NNCO, the RFI is a key step in responding to the most recent assessment of the National Nanotechnology Initiative (NNI) by the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST). “PCAST specifically recommended that the Federal government launch nanotechnology grand challenges in order to focus and amplify the impact of Federal nanotechnology investments and activities.”

The RFI includes a number of potential grand challenges as examples. Federal agencies participating in the NNI (see www.nano.gov), working with NNCO and OSTP, developed examples in the areas of health care, electronics, materials, sustainability, and product safety in order to illustrate how such grand challenges should be framed and to help stimulate the development of additional grand challenges by the wider community.

The RFI seeks input from nanotechnology stakeholders including researchers in academia and industry, non-governmental organizations, scientific and professional societies, and all other interested members of the public. “We strongly encourage everyone to spread the word about this request,” adds Meador. “We are excited about this request and hope to receive suggestions for bold and exciting challenges that nanotechnology can solve.”

A June 17, 2015 blog posting on the White House website (referred to previously) by Lloyd Whitman and Tom Kalil provides more insight into the ‘Grand Challenges’,

In a recent review of the NNI [US National Nanotechnology Initiative], the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology called for government agencies, industry, and the research community to identify and pursue nanotechnology Grand Challenges. Through today’s RFI, we want to hear your game-changing ideas for Grand Challenges that harness nanoscience and nanotechnology to solve important national or global problems. These Grand Challenges should stimulate additional public and private investment, and foster the commercialization of Federally-funded nanotechnology research.

By 2025, the nanotechnology R&D community is challenged to achieve the following:

  1. Increase the five-year survival rates by 50% for the most difficult to treat cancers.
  2. Create devices no bigger than a grain of rice that can sense, compute, and communicate without wires or maintenance for 10 years, enabling an “internet of things” revolution.
  3. Create computer chips that are 100 times faster yet consume less power.
  4. Manufacture atomically-precise materials with fifty times the strength of aluminum at half the weight and the same cost.
  5. Reduce the cost of turning sea water into drinkable water by a factor of four.
  6. Determine the environmental, health, and safety characteristics of a nanomaterial in a month.

What would you propose? Read more about what makes an effective Grand Challenge and how to propose your own Nanotechnology-Inspired Grand Challenges for the Next Decade and comment on these examples here. Responses must be received by July 16, 2015 to be considered.

Good luck!

Tiny Science. Big Impacts. Cool Videos. Winners announced and new call for submissions.

The US National Nanotechnology Coordination Office (NNCO) on behalf of the National Nanotechnology Initiative (NNI) has announced the winners for its first, ‘Tiny Science. Big Impacts. Cool Videos.’ contest in a June 5, 2015 news item on Nanowerk,

The National Nanotechnology Coordination Office (NNCO) is pleased to announce the winners of the first Tiny Science. Big Impacts. Cool Videos. nanotechnology video contest for students. Abelardo Colon and Jennifer Gill from the University of Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras, Nanoscience and Nanotechnology Research Lab won the top honors for their video entitled Chlorination-less. The video explains a new method for disinfecting drinking water using a nanodiamond powder. This nanotechnology-enabled method can kill bacteria, is biocompatible, and is reusable, making it a good alternative to traditional chlorination. Congratulations Abelardo and Jennifer!

A June 5, 2015 NNCO news release on EurekAlert, which originated the news item, describes the judging process and plans for the video,

Videos submitted by students from universities across the United States and U.S. territories, were posted on NanoTube, the official National Nanotechnology Initiative (NNI) YouTube channel, for public voting. The winning video was chosen by representatives from the NNI member agencies from the top two videos identified by public voting. This video will be featured on Nano.gov for the next month. For more information on the Tiny Science. Big Impacts. Cool Videos. contest rules and judges, visit the student video contest page on Nano.gov.

Here is Chlorination-less,

From the Chlorination-less YouTube page,

Published on Apr 28, 2015

“Access to clean water is a major international issue that must not be ignored. Our research is finding a new method for the disinfection of drinking water. Even so, chlorination is the most common treatment for the disinfection of drinking water, but has a lot of disadvantages. Disinfectant by-products (DBP’s) produced by the chlorine disinfection process can cause health problems such as cancer to humans that drink water or inhale vapor. Also some bacteria are able to adapt to this chemical treatment. This is why we are proposing a physical treatment using Ultra Dispersed Diamond (UDD) for the disinfection of drinking water. The UDD is a nanodiamond powder, which has bactericidal properties and is biocompatible. After applying the UDD material to the contaminated water we have promising results. There was a reduction of fecal E. coli colonies as time passed and the density of the material increases. This process will be healthier, cheaper, and more environmentally friendly since it is reusable.”

University of Puerto Rico , Rio Piedras Campus

As for the next contest, that begins July 1, 2015 (from the Tiny Science. Big Impacts. Cool Videos. contest webpage), Note: Links have been removed,

Graduate students, will your research lead to nanotechnologies that impact our daily lives? Submit videos that demonstrate how your nanotechnology research will bring solutions to real-world problems. …

Email submissions information to NNCOvideos@gmail.com and include:

Name and affiliation:

Submissions will be accepted from teams and from individuals. A lead contact person must be designated for team submissions. The order in which names are listed in the submission is the order in which they will appear on the NNI public voting page, the NNI YouTube channel, and on Nano.gov.

Description (150 words or less): Explain your research, use plain language and avoid jargon. Concentrate on what problem your research will help to solve.

Title of uploaded video: It should be the same as the video file name you upload using Google Drive.

Releases for people appearing in the video: A release form is available here; print, collect signatures, scan, and email us electronic copies.

Laboratory website: Include link to the lab where you work, if available

Funding source: Include funding agency, program manager, and award/grant number, if possible

Upload videos using Google Drive to NNCOvideos@gmail.com:

Video Criteria

Video length should be between 2.5 and 3 minutes.

Maximum file size is 2 GB

File type must be H.264, MP4, FLV, or MOV

Use a camera that can shoot videos at least 1280 x 720 pixels in size.

Save video file as the title listed on emailed submission information

Remember to avoid jargon while explaining your research

Collect signed releases (available here) from any recognizable individual appearing in your video

You are allowed to have others (e.g., film students) produce the video. If you put your own video together make sure everything is well lit. Fluorescent overhead lights aren’t the best, try to use natural or focused light if you can. Pay attention to sound quality; use a good microphone and listen for background noise. Watch for too much clutter in the background of your scenes, this can be distracting.


NNCO will begin accepting submissions for the Tiny Science. Big Impacts. Cool Videos. video contest on July 1, 2015.

The Tiny Science. Big Impacts. Cool Videos. video contest will close on November 12, 2015.

The deadline for submissions is 12:00 p.m. PST November 12, 2015.

Semifinalist judging for videos submitted before 12:00 p.m. PST on November 12, 2015 takes place from 12:00 p.m. November 19, 2015 to 12:00 p.m. November 30, 2015.

The winning video will be announced on December 15, 2015.

Good luck!

US White House establishes new initiatives to commercialize nanotechnology

As I’ve noted several times, there’s a strong push in the US to commercialize nanotechnology and May 20, 2015 was a banner day for the efforts. The US White House announced a series of new initiatives to speed commercialization efforts in a May 20, 2015 posting by Lloyd Whitman, Tom Kalil, and JJ Raynor,

Today, May 20 [2015], the National Economic Council and the Office of Science and Technology Policy held a forum at the White House to discuss opportunities to accelerate the commercialization of nanotechnology.

In recognition of the importance of nanotechnology R&D, representatives from companies, government agencies, colleges and universities, and non-profits are announcing a series of new and expanded public and private initiatives that complement the Administration’s efforts to accelerate the commercialization of nanotechnology and expand the nanotechnology workforce:

  • The Colleges of Nanoscale Science and Engineering at SUNY Polytechnic Institute in Albany, NY and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health are launching the Nano Health & Safety Consortium to advance research and guidance for occupational safety and health in the nanoelectronics and other nanomanufacturing industry settings.
  • Raytheon has brought together a group of representatives from the defense industry and the Department of Defense to identify collaborative opportunities to advance nanotechnology product development, manufacturing, and supply-chain support with a goal of helping the U.S. optimize development, foster innovation, and take more rapid advantage of new commercial nanotechnologies.
  • BASF Corporation is taking a new approach to finding solutions to nanomanufacturing challenges. In March, BASF launched a prize-based “NanoChallenge” designed to drive new levels of collaborative innovation in nanotechnology while connecting with potential partners to co-create solutions that address industry challenges.
  • OCSiAl is expanding the eligibility of its “iNanoComm” matching grant program that provides low-cost, single-walled carbon nanotubes to include more exploratory research proposals, especially proposals for projects that could result in the creation of startups and technology transfers.
  • The NanoBusiness Commercialization Association (NanoBCA) is partnering with Venture for America and working with the National Science Foundation (NSF) to promote entrepreneurship in nanotechnology.  Three companies (PEN, NanoMech, and SouthWest NanoTechnologies), are offering to support NSF’s Innovation Corps (I-Corps) program with mentorship for entrepreneurs-in-training and, along with three other companies (NanoViricides, mPhase Technologies, and Eikos), will partner with Venture for America to hire recent graduates into nanotechnology jobs, thereby strengthening new nanotech businesses while providing needed experience for future entrepreneurs.
  • TechConnect is establishing a Nano and Emerging Technologies Student Leaders Conference to bring together the leaders of nanotechnology student groups from across the country. The conference will highlight undergraduate research and connect students with venture capitalists, entrepreneurs, and industry leaders.  Five universities have already committed to participating, led by the University of Virginia Nano and Emerging Technologies Club.
  • Brewer Science, through its Global Intern Program, is providing more than 30 students from high schools, colleges, and graduate schools across the country with hands-on experience in a wide range of functions within the company.  Brewer Science plans to increase the number of its science and engineering interns by 50% next year and has committed to sharing best practices with other nanotechnology businesses interested in how internship programs can contribute to a small company’s success.
  • The National Institute of Standards and Technology’s Center for Nanoscale Science and Technology is expanding its partnership with the National Science Foundation to provide hands-on experience for students in NSF’s Advanced Technology Education program. The partnership will now run year-round and will include opportunities for students at Hudson Valley Community College and the University of the District of Columbia Community College.
  • Federal agencies participating in the NNI [US National Nanotechnology Initiative], supported by the National Nanotechnology Coordination Office [NNCO], are launching multiple new activities aimed at educating students and the public about nanotechnology, including image and video contests highlighting student research, a new webinar series focused on providing nanotechnology information for K-12 teachers, and a searchable web portal on nano.gov of nanoscale science and engineering resources for teachers and professors.

Interestingly, May 20, 2015 is also the day the NNCO held its second webinar for small- and medium-size businesses in the nanotechnology community. You can find out more about that webinar and future ones by following the links in my May 13, 2015 posting.

Since the US White House announcement, OCSiAl has issued a May 26, 2015 news release which provides a brief history and more details about its newly expanded NanoComm program,

OCSiAl launched the iNanoComm, which stands for the Integrated Nanotube Commercialization Award, program in February 2015 to help researchers lower the cost of their most promising R&D projects dedicated to SWCNT [single-walled carbon nanotube] applications. The first round received 33 applications from 28 university groups, including The Smalley-Curl Center for Nanoscale Science and Technology at Rice University and the Concordia Center for Composites at Concordia University [Canada] among others. [emphasis mine] The aim of iNanoComm is to stimulate universities and research organizations to develop innovative market products based on nano-augmented materials, also known as clean materials.

Now the program’s criteria are being broadened to enable greater private sector engagement in potential projects and the creation of partnerships in commercializing nanotechnology. The program will now support early stage commercialization efforts connected to university research in the form of start-ups, technology transfers, new businesses and university spinoffs to support the mass commercialization of SWCNT products and technologies.

The announcement of the program’s expansion took place at the 2015 Roundtable of the US NanoBusiness Commercialization Association (NanoBCA), the world’s first non-profit association focused on the commercialization of nanotechnologies. NanoBCA is dedicated to creating an environment that nurtures research and innovation in nanotechnology, promotes tech-transfer of nanotechnology from academia to industry, encourages private capital investments in nanotechnology companies, and helps its corporate members bring innovative nanotechnology products to market.

“Enhancing iNanoComm as a ‘start-up incubator’ is a concrete step in promoting single-wall carbon nanotube applications in the commercial world,” said Max Atanassov, CEO of OCSiAl USA. “It was the logical thing for us to do, now that high quality carbon nanotubes have become broadly available and are affordably priced to be used on a mass industrial scale.”

Vince Caprio, Executive Director of NanoBCA, added that “iNanoComm will make an important contribution to translating fundamental nanotechnology research into commercial products. By facilitating the formation of more start-ups, it will encourage more scientists to pursue their dreams and develop their ideas into commercially successful businesses.”

For more information on the program expansion and how it can reduce the cost of early stage research connected to university projects, visit the iNanoComm website at www.inanocomm.org or contact info@inanocomm.org.

h/t Azonano May 27, 2015 news item

Outcomes for US-European Union bridging Nano environment, health, and safety (EHS) research workshop

According to Lynn Bergeson in an April 14, 2015 news item on Nanotechnology Now, a US-European Union (EU) workshop on nanosafety has published a document,

The National Nanotechnology Initiative (NNI) published on March 23, 2015, the outcomes of the March 12-13, 2015, joint workshop held by the U.S. and the European Union (EU), “Bridging NanoEHS Research Efforts.” …

A US National Nanotechnology Initiative (NNI) ??, ??, 2015 notice on the nano.gov site provides more details,

Workshop participants reviewed progress toward COR [communities of research] goals and objectives, shared best practices, and identified areas for cross-COR collaboration.  To address new challenges the CORs were realigned and expanded with the addition of a COR on nanotechnology characterization. The seven CORs now address:

Databases and Computational Modeling
Exposure through Product Life
Human Toxicity
Risk Assessment
Risk Management and Control

The CORs support the shared goal of responsible nanotechnology development as outlined in the U.S. National Nanotechnology Initiative EHS Research Strategy, and the research strategy of the EU NanoSafety Cluster. The CORs directly address several priorities described in the documents above, including the creation of a comprehensive nanoEHS knowledge base and international cooperation on the development of best practices and consensus standards.

The CORs are self-run, with technical support provided by the European Commission and the U.S. National Nanotechnology Coordination Office. Each Community has European and American co-chairs who convene meetings and teleconferences, guide the discussions, and set the group’s agenda. Participation in the CORs is free and open to any interested individuals. More information is available at www.us-eu.org.

The workshop was organized by the European Commission and the U.S. National Nanotechnology Initiative under the auspices of the agreement for scientific and technological cooperation between the European Union and the United States.

Coincidentally, I received an April 13, 2015 notice about the European Commission’s NanoSafety Cluster’s Spring 2015 newsletter concerning their efforts but found no mention of the ‘bridging workshop’. Presumably, information was not available prior to the newsletter’s deadline.

In my April 8, 2014 posting about a US proposed rule for reporting nanomaterials, I included information about the US and its efforts to promote or participate in harmonizing the nano situation internationally. Scroll down about 35% of the way to find information about the Canada-U.S. Regulatory Cooperation Council (RCC) Nanotechnology Initiative, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) effort, and the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) effort.

Carbon nanotube commercialization report from the US National Nanotechnology Initiative

Apparently a workshop on the topic commercializing carbon nanotubes was held in Washington, DC. in Sept. 2014. A March 12, 2015 news item on Nanowerk (originated by  March 12, 2015 US National Nanotechnology Initiative news release on EurekAlert) announces the outcome of that workshop (Note: Links have been removed),

The National Nanotechnology Initiative today published the proceedings of a technical interchange meeting on “Realizing the Promise of Carbon Nanotubes: Challenges, Opportunities, and the Pathway to Commercialization” (pdf), held at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Headquarters on September 15, 2014. This meeting brought together some of the Nation’s leading experts in carbon nanotube materials to identify, discuss, and report on technical barriers to the production of carbon nanotube (CNT)-based bulk and composite materials with properties that more closely match those of individual CNTs and to explore ways to overcome these barriers.

The outcomes of this meeting, as detailed in this report, will help inform the future directions of the NNI Nanotechnology Signature Initiative “Sustainable Nanomanufacturing: Creating the Industries of the Future”, which was launched in 2010 to accelerate the development of industrial-scale methods for manufacturing functional nanoscale systems.

The Technical Interchange Proceedings ‘Realizing the Promise of Carbon Nanotubes: Challenges, Opportunities, and the Pathway to Commercialization‘ (30 pp. PDF) describes areas for improvement in its executive summary,

A number of common themes and areas requiring focused attention were identified:

● Increased efforts devoted to manufacturing, quality control, and scale-up are needed. The development of a robust supply of CNT bulk materials with well-controlled properties would greatly enhance commercialization and spur use in a broad range of applications.
● Improvements are needed in the mechanical and electrical properties of CNT-based bulk materials (composites, sheets, and fibers) to approach the properties of individual CNTs. The development of bulk materials with properties nearing ideal CNT values would accelerate widespread adoption of these materials.
● More effective use of simulation and modeling is needed to provide insight into the fundamentals of the CNT growth process. Theoretical insight into the fundamentals of the growth process will inform the development of processes capable of producing high-quality material in quantity.
● Work is needed to help develop an understanding of the properties of bulk CNT-containing materials at longer length scales. Longer length scale understanding will enable the development of predictive models of structure–process–properties relationships and structural design technology tailored to take advantage of CNT properties.
● Standard materials and protocols are needed to guide the testing of CNT-based products for commercial applications. Advances in measurement methods are also required to characterize bulk CNT material properties and to understand the mechanism(s) of failure to help ensure material reliability.
● Life cycle assessments are needed for gauging commercial readiness. Life cycle assessments should include energy usage, performance lifetime, and degradation or disposal of CNT-based products.
● Collaboration to leverage resources and expertise is needed to advance commercialization of CNT-based products. Coordinated, focused efforts across academia, government laboratories, and industry to target grand challenges with support from public–private partnerships would accelerate efforts to provide solutions to overcome these technical barriers.

This meeting identified a number of the technical barriers that need to be overcome to make the promise of carbon nanotubes a reality. A more concerted effort is needed to focus R&D activities towards addressing these barriers and accelerating commercialization. The outcomes from this meeting will inform the future directions of the NNI Nanomanufacturing Signature Initiative and provide specific areas that warrant broader focus in the CNT research community. [p. vii print; p. 9 PDF]

This report, in its final section, explains the basis for the interest in and the hopes for carbon nanotubes,

Improving the electrical and mechanical properties of bulk carbon nanotube materials (yarns, fibers, wires, sheets, and composites) to more closely match those of individual carbon nanotubes will enable a revolution in materials that will have a broad impact on U.S. industries, global competitiveness, and the environment. Use of composites reinforced with high-strength carbon nanotube fibers in terrestrial and air transportation vehicles could enable a 25% reduction in their overall weight, reduce U.S. oil consumption by nearly 6 million barrels per day by 2035 [42], and reduce worldwide consumption of petroleum and other liquid fuels by 25%. This would result in the reduction of CO2 emissions by as much as 3.75 billion metric tons per year. Use of carbon nanotube-based data and power cables would lead to further reductions in vehicle weight, fuel consumption, and CO2 emissions. For example, replacement of the copper wiring in a Boeing 777 with CNT data and power cables that are 50% lighter would enable a 2,000-pound reduction in airplane weight. Use of carbon nanotube wiring in power distribution lines would reduce transmission losses by approximately 41 billion kilowatt hours annually [42], leading to significant savings in coal and gas consumption and reductions in the electric power industry’s carbon footprint.

The impact of developing these materials on U.S. global competitiveness is also significant. For example, global demand for carbon fibers is expected to grow from 46,000 metric tons per year in 2011 to more than 153,000 metric tons in 2020 due to the exponential growth in the use of composites in commercial aircraft, automobiles, aerospace, and wind energy [43]. Ultrahigh-strength CNT fibers would be highly attractive in each of these applications because they offer the advantage of reduced weight and improved performance over conventional carbon fibers. [p. 10 print; p. 20 PDF]

As these things go, this is a very short document, which makes it a fast read, and it has a reference list, something I always find useful.

My colleague, Dexter Johnson in a March 17, 2015 posting on his Nanoclast blog (on the IEEE [Institute for Electrical and Electronics Engineers] website) provides some background information before launching into an analysis of the report’s recommendations (Note: Links have been removed),

In the last half-a-decade we have witnessed once-beloved carbon nanotubes (CNTs) slowly being eclipsed by graphene as the “wonder material” of the nanomaterial universe.

This changing of the guard has occurred primarily within the research community, where the amount of papers being published about graphene seems to be steadily increasing. But in terms of commercial development, CNTs still have a leg up on graphene, finding increasing use in creating light but strong composites. Nonetheless, the commercial prospects for CNTs have been taking hits recently, with some producers scaling down capacity because of lack of demand.

With this as the backdrop, the National Nanotechnology Initiative (NNI), famous for its estimate back in 2001 that the market for nanotechnology will be worth $1 trillion by 2015,  has released a report based on a meeting held last September. …

I recommend reading Dexter’s analysis.