Congressional Research Service. May 22, 2012.
Nanotechnology–a term encompassing the science, engineering, and applications of submicron materials–involves the harnessing of unique physical, chemical, and biological properties of nanoscale substances in fundamentally new and useful ways. The economic and societal promise of nanotechnology has led to substantial and sustained investments by governments and companies around the world. In 2000, the U.S. launched the world’s first national nanotechnology program. From FY2001 through FY2012, the federal government invested approximately $15.6 billion in nanoscale science, engineering, and technology through the U.S. National Nanotechnology Initiative (NNI). President Obama has requested $1.8 billion in NNI funding for FY2013. U.S. companies and state governments have invested billions more. As a result of this focus and these investments, the U.S. has, in the view of many experts, emerged as a global leader in nanotechnology. However, the competition for global leadership in nanotechnology is intensifying as countries and companies around the world increase their investments.
http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/misc/RL34401.pdf [PDF format, 60 pages].