Nanotechnology knowledge diffusion: Measuring the impact of the research networking and a strategy for improvement

Xuan Liu, Shan Jiang, Hsinchun Chen, Catherine A. Larson, Mihail C. Roco

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Given the global increase in public funding for nanotechnology research and development, it is even more important to support projects with promising return on investment. A main return is the benefit to other researchers and to the entire field through knowledge diffusion, invention, and innovation. The social network of researchers is one of the channels through which this happens. This study considers the scientific publication network in the field of nanotechnology, and evaluates how knowledge diffusion through coauthorship and citations is affected in large institutions by the location and connectivity of individual researchers in the network. The relative position and connectivity of a researcher is measured by various social network metrics, including degree centrality, Bonacich Power centrality, structural holes, and betweenness centrality. Leveraging the Cox regression model, we analyzed the temporal relationships between knowledge diffusion and social network measures of researchers in five leading universities in the United States using papers published from 2000 to 2010. The results showed that the most significant effects on knowledge diffusion in the field of nanotechnology were from the structural holes of the network and the degree centrality of individual researchers. The data suggest that a researcher has potential to perform better in knowledge creation and diffusion on boundary-spanning positions between different communities and when he or she has a high level of connectivity in the knowledge network. These observations may lead to improved strategies in planning, conducting, and evaluating multidisciplinary nanotechnology research. The paper also identifies the researchers who made most significant contributions to nanotechnology knowledge diffusion in the networks of five leading U.S. universities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number2613
JournalJournal of Nanoparticle Research
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2014


  • Academic research ecosystem
  • Boundary-spanning position
  • Centrality measures
  • Connectivity measure
  • Cox regression model
  • Knowledge diffusion
  • Nanoscale science and engineering
  • Research evaluation
  • Social network

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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