Longitudinal nanotechnology development (1991 - 2002): National science foundation funding and its impact on patents

Zan Huang, Hsinchun Chen, Lijun Yan, Mihail C. Roco

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Scopus citations


Nanotechnology holds the promise to revolutionize a wide range of products, processes and applications. It is recognized by over sixty countries as critical for their development at the beginning of the 21st century. A significant public investment of over $1 billion annually is devoted to nanotechnology research in the United States. This paper provides an analysis of the National Science Foundation (NSF) funding of nanoscale science and engineering (NSE) and its relationship to the innovation as reflected in the United States Patent and Trade Office (USPTO) patent data. Using a combination of bibliometric analysis and visualization tools, we have identified several general trends, the key players, and the evolution of technology topics in the NSF funding and commercial patenting activities. This study documents the rapid growth of innovation in the field of nanotechnology and its correlation to funding. Statistical analysis shows that the NSF-funded researchers and their patents have higher impact factors than other private and publicly funded reference groups. This suggests the importance of fundamental research on nanotechnology development. The number of cites per NSF-funded inventor is about 10 as compared to 2 for all inventors of NSE-related patents recorded at USPTO, and the corresponding Authority Score is 20 as compared to 1.8.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)343-376
Number of pages34
JournalJournal of Nanoparticle Research
Issue number4-5
StatePublished - Oct 2005


  • Information visualization
  • Nanoscale science and engineering (NSE)
  • Nanotechnology
  • Paper citations
  • Patent analysis
  • Public funding of research
  • 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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