Researchers from the two leading producers of nanotechnology papers -- China and the United States -- have become each nation's most frequent international co-authors. Though Chinese and U.S. researchers now publish roughly the same number of nanotechnology papers, the U.S. retains a lead in the quality of publications -- as measured by the number of early citations.
"Despite ten years of emphasis by governments on national nanotechnology initiatives, we find that patterns of nanotechnology research collaboration and funding transcend country boundaries," said Phillip Shapira, study co-author and a professor in the School of Public Policy at the Georgia Institute of Technology. "For example, we found that U.S. and Chinese researchers have developed a relatively high level of collaboration in nanotechnology research. Each country is the other's leading collaborator in nanotechnology R&D."
The findings were part of a new study of nanotechnology publishing reported Dec. 2 in the online edition of the journal Nature. The research was sponsored by the National Science Foundation-supported Center for Nanotechnology in Society at Arizona State University (CNS-ASU).
Sparked by programs such as the National Nanotechnology Initiative (NNI) in the United States, leading industrial nations have launched nanotechnology research programs that invested more than $8 billion in public funds in 2008 alone. China, Germany, Japan and Korea are among the many countries that have launched major governmental programs to develop their national nanotechnology capabilities as part of efforts to boost future economic growth.
"There is widespread anticipation that nanotechnology will be a critical component in addressing global challenges in such areas as energy, environment, health care, security and sustainability," explained Shapira, who is also a professor of innovation at the University of Manchester. "At the same time, nanotechnology may be a key driver in the next wave of technology-led economic growth and investment. Governments around the world are hoping that their often massive investments in nanotechnology R&D will lead not only to economic, but also to significant societal returns."
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