Washington D.C. – U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, member of the Armed Services Committee, secured Senate approval for an increased focus on nanotechnology research by the Defense Department, including a study to determine the need for a center for nanotechnology. If a new center is established, it is likely to be located at the University at Albany’s College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering devoted to research and development of nanotechnology. Senator Gillibrand included language in the FY 2012 National Defense Authorization Act, which passed the Senate late yesterday, for the Department to compile a report on the need for such a center and fought to provide $50 million of federal funds to nanotechnology research. Albany’s NanoCollege would need to compete with other institutions for the funding to establish a center.
“This would be a great investment for the College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering of the University at Albany and our military,” said Senator Gillibrand. “It is critical that nanotechnology research and development is done right here in the U.S. and there is no place better to lead the way than the UAlbany NanoCollege. Like other innovations that have made our country competitive, the Defense Department’s innovation can have the additional benefit of spurring commercial investments and helping to sustain a domestic industry that not only serves the Defense Industrial Base but also translates into American competitiveness.”
Dr. Alain Kaloyeros, Senior Vice President and CEO of the College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering, said, “On behalf of the UAlbany NanoCollege, I applaud Senator Kirsten Gillibrand for her leadership and advocacy in securing this critical action by the United States Senate, a further demonstration of her tenacity and success in advancing the best interests of the Capital Region and New York State by capitalizing on its critical high-tech assets and resources. When coupled to the vision and dedicated efforts of Congressman Chris Gibson and Congressman Paul Tonko, this action represents an integral step forward in designating the College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering and New York as the nation’s key technological resource to ensure U.S. supremacy in 21st century military technologies, equipping and protecting our troops with state-of-the-art, nanotechnology-enabled tools, safeguarding our vital national interests both at home and abroad, and attracting significant federal investment to drive new high-tech economic development amid the rapidly-expanding nanotechnology economy in the region and state.”
A 2010 President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology report said that between 2003 and 2008, U.S. public and private investments in nanotechnology only grew at 18 percent per year compared to 27 percent per year throughout the world. While the U.S. is a global leader in nanotechnology, other countries like China are quickly catching up.
In recent years, China has become increasingly interested in the technology, naming it one of its four “science Megaprojects” that have the central purpose of closing the scientific research gap with the U.S. by 2020. Chinese nanotechnology patents have already surpassed the number of U.S. applications, and researchers have estimated that the Chinese government has already invested $400 million from 2002 to 2007 in the technology, with that funding expected to rise considerably in the coming years.
Now that the Senate has approved the funding and legislative provision as part of the FY 2012 National Defense Authorization Act, the bill will be reconciled with the House version, and pass the full Congress before being sent to the President for signature.
Senator Gillibrand worked closely with Representatives Paul Tonko (NY-21) and Chris Gibson (NY-20) in support of the advancement of nanotechnology and the creation of a new nanotechnology center at the University at Albany.