Has China Surpassed the US in Nanotech?

Honestly, I don’t think the metrics we have for measuring nanotechnology leadership, namely research papers and government funding, will have much of an impact on the promised economic development that is supposed to come from the commercialization of nanotechnology. But in these two areas it appears China is pulling even or ahead of the US.

Eric Drexler over at his Metamodern blog has been examining the position of China in nanotechnology development and the data seems to suggest that the most prolific authors are based in China.

The quality of the journals in which they are published, and, more importantly, how often these papers are cited in other papers is not really discussed. But Drexler is continuing this series with assessments of other countries in Asia, and likely this will be examined.

Also, earlier this year Cientifica’s TNTLog released findings (that I helped in researching) that China and the US were neck and neck for…third place in government funding when measuring with purchasing power parity (PPP).

But there is a giant chasm between research projects and commercial products and probably remains the one biggest obstacle to nanotechnology having a greater impact on our economies. Show me a funding mechanism that can support a research project through to a commercial product, sometimes spanning seven to ten years, and I will show you a research institute, a company or a country that will be successful in nanotechnology notwithstanding how many research papers were written and how much government funding was laid out.



IEEE Spectrum’s nanotechnology blog, featuring news and analysis about the development, applications, and future of science and technology at the nanoscale.

Dexter Johnson
Madrid, Spain
Rachel Courtland
Associate Editor, IEEE Spectrum
New York, NY