A bill establishing a National Nanotechnology Program and allocating US$3.7 billion to the program over the next four years recently passed the U.S. House of Representatives in a voice vote.

The 21st Century Nanotechnology Research and Development Act calls for ensuring U.S. global leadership in nanotechnology. The program would set goals and priorities for federal nanotechnology research, invest in research and development programs and coordinate federal nanotechnology programs. Among the investments would be the establishment of research centers as well as grants to individuals and teams of researchers. It also requires research into the social and ethical consequences of nanotechnology.

Also included are calls for providing education and training to foster an interdisciplinary research culture and for accelerating the application of research results in the private sector. The National Science and Technology Center will oversee the program.

The bill, Senate Bill 189, was introduced in January by Senator Ron Wyden, an Oregon Democrat, and passed by the Senate.