House panel approves nanotech funding

The House Science Committee has approved a bill establishing a National Nanotechnology Research and Development Program, authorizing $2.4 billion in funding over the next three years.

Floor action for HR 766 has tentatively been scheduled for next week.

The bill, sponsored by chairman Sherwood Boehlert (R-N.Y.) and Mike Honda (D-Calif.), passed by a voice vote Thursday. The purpose is to "ensure continued U.S. leadership in nanotechnology" R&D. The National Science Foundation has predicted there will be a $1 trillion market for devices and systems operating at the atomic and molecular level within a decade.

The bill would establish a National Nanotechnology Coordination Office to oversee the funding, through five federal agencies, of interdisciplinary research by individuals, teams and academic institutions. The office also would encourage the transfer of technology and development of commercial applications.

An advisory committee would evaluate the work of the office and address ethical concerns.

Agencies receiving funds would be the National Science Foundation, the Energy Department, NASA, the National Institute of Standards and Technology and the Environmental Protection Agency. The agencies would receive $713 million in fiscal 2004, $784.5 million the following year, and $864 million in 2006.

About the Author

William Jackson is a Maryland-based freelance writer.

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