Connecting NSF funding to patent innovation in nanotechnology (2001-2004)

Zan Huang, Hsinchun Chen, Xin Li, Mihail C. Roco

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


Nanotechnology research has experienced growth rapid in knowledge and innovations; it also attracted significant public funding in recent years. Several countries have recognized nanotechnology as a critical research domain that promises to revolutionize a wide range of fields of applications. In this paper we present an analysis of the funding for nanoscale science and engineering (NSE) at the National Science Foundation (NSF) and its implications on technological innovation (number of patents) in this field from 2001 to 2004. Using a combination of basic bibliometric analysis and content visualization tools we identify growth trends research topic distribution and the evolution in NSF funding and commercial patenting activities recorded at the United States Patent Office (USPTO). The patent citations are used to compare the impact of the NSF-funded research on nanotechnology development with research supported by other sources in the United States and abroad. The analysis shows that the NSF-funded researchers and patents authored by them have significantly higher impact based on patent citation measures in the four-year period than other comparison groups. The NSF-authored patent impact is growing faster with the lifetime of a patent indicating the long-term importance of fundamental research.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)859-879
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Nanoparticle Research
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2006


  • Government funding
  • Information visualization
  • Nanoscale science and engineering
  • Nanotechnology
  • Patent analysis
  • Patent citations
  • Research and development (R&D)
  • Self-organizing maps
  • Technological innovation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Bioengineering
  • General Chemistry
  • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics
  • Modeling and Simulation
  • General Materials Science
  • Condensed Matter Physics


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