Navigation Links
Analysis confirms that nano-related research has strong multidisciplinary roots

The burgeoning research fields of nanoscience and nanotechnology are commonly thought to be highly multidisciplinary because they draw on many areas of science and technology to make important advances.

Research reported in the September issue of the journal Nature Nanotechnology finds that nanoscience and nanotechnology indeed are highly multidisciplinary but not much more so than other modern disciplines such as medicine or electrical engineering that also draw on multiple areas of science and technology.

With $1.6 billion scheduled to be invested in nano-related research during 2010, assessing the multidisciplinary nature of the field could be important to policy-makers, research managers, technology-transfer officers and others responsible for managing the investment and creating a supportive environment for it.

"Research in nanoscience and nanotechnology is not just a collection of isolated 'stove pipes' drawing knowledge from one narrow discipline, but rather is quite interdisciplinary," said Alan Porter, co-author of the paper and a professor emeritus in the Schools of Industrial and Systems Engineering and Public Policy at the Georgia Institute of Technology. "We found that research in any one category of nanoscience and nanotechnology tends to cite research in many other categories."

The study was sponsored by the National Science Foundation through the Center for Nanotechnology in Society at Arizona State University.

Porter and collaborator Jan Youtie, manager of policy services in Georgia Tech's Enterprise Innovation Institute, analyzed abstracts from more than 30,000 papers with "nano" themes that were published between January and July of 2008. They found that although materials science and chemistry dominated the papers, fields as diverse as clinical medicine, biomedical sciences and physics also contributed.

These "nanopapers" studied by the researchers appeared in more than 6,000 journals that were part of a database known as the Science Citation Index (SCI). The researchers found nanopapers in 151 of SCI's 175 subject categories, with 52 of the categories containing more than 100 such papers.

To explore how well knowledge was integrated across the disciplines, the researchers also studied the journal articles that were cited in the nanopapers. They found more than one million cited references, a mean of 33 per paper.

Using text mining techniques to extract sources from the cited references, they further found that 45 subject categories were cited by five percent or more of the nanopapers and 98 categories that were cited by at least one percent of the papers. The text mining was done using VantagePoint software developed by Georgia Tech and Search Technology Inc.

Six subject categories dominated both the original nanopapers and the cited references. Each of the six contained 10 percent or more of the original nanopapers and was cited by 39 percent or more of the references. They are:

  • Materials science, multidisciplinary
  • Physics, applied
  • Chemistry, physical
  • Physics, condensed matter
  • Nanoscience and nanotechnology
  • Chemistry, multidisciplinary

The researchers found considerable interdisciplinary representation within those six categories. Though 86 percent of the 3,863 nanopapers in the "nanoscience and nanotechnology" category cited papers in materials science, another 80 subject categories had 40 or more cited papers each.

This representation continued even outside the top six categories. The 808 nanopapers in electrical engineering cited papers in journals from 138 different subject categories, while the 435 nanopapers in organic chemistry cited papers in journals from 140 different subject categories.

The researchers also used a metric they called an "integration score" to gauge how interdisciplinary nature of a particular paper or set of papers. The integration score ranged from zero for stand-alone disciplines that don't cite work from other disciplines to one for highly-integrated disciplines that heavily cite work from other areas.

Integration scores ranged from 0.65 for nanoscience and nanotechnology to 0.60 for electrical engineering and 0.64 for organic chemistry.

"Our results show the multidisciplinary nature of research in nanoscience and nanotechnology, although the integration scores make it clear that much non-nano research is also comparably interdisciplinary," Porter said. "Much of the nanoresearch is also concentrated in 'macrodisciplines' such as materials science and chemistry, and researchers tend to cite work from neighboring fields more often than work in more distant fields."

Understanding the interdisciplinary nature of nanoscience and nanotechnology could be important to creating the right environment for the field to produce results.

"There is a broad perspective that most scientific breakthroughs occur at the interstices among more established fields," said Youtie. "Nanotechnology R&D is believed to be an area where disciplines converge. If nanotechnology does have a strong multidisciplinary character, attention to communication across disciplines will be an important feature in its emergence."

In the future, Porter and Youtie hope to explore other policy-focused nano topics, including:

  • How research and development patterns can forecast likely commercial innovations;
  • The societal implications of nanoscience and nanotechnology innovations so that potential negative efforts can be mitigated before they occur;
  • How corporations develop their strategies for nanoscience and nanotechnology, and
  • Where nanoscience and hotspots for research and development called "nanodistricts" exist around the world.

"A nanodistrict is a regional concentration of research institutions and firms where nanotechnologies are developed," Youtie explained. "Although nanotechnology applications are deployed widely across the world, a smaller number of nanodistrict locations are appearing where nanotechnology research, development and initial commercialization are clustered."


Contact: John Toon
Georgia Institute of Technology Research News

Related biology technology :

1. Analysis of Biofuels Indirect Land Use Effects Finds the Science Lacking: Too Diffuse and Subject To Too Many Arbitrary Assumptions To Be Useful for Rule-making.
2. Merck/Schering-Ploughs Zetia and Vytorin Have Lost Substantial Patient Share in Second- and Third-Line Therapy Since Last Years Analysis of Dyslipidemia
3. ParagonRx Files with FDA REMS Panel Interim Analysis for Opioid Drugs Study
4. Particle Sciences and Microfluidics Collaborate to Share Formulation and Nanotechnology Expertise for Pharmaceutical Drug Product Development, Analysis and Commercialization
5. Caliper Life Sciences Introduces Staccato Protein Workstation for Automated Protein Sample Preparation & Analysis
6. A Worldwide Milestone in Cell Analysis - 40 Years of Flow Cytometry
7. MicroFluidic Systems (MFSI) Receives Patent for Method to Selectively Process Different Biological Cell Types for Analysis.
8. Lethality of H1N1 Influenza Virus Increasing According to Latest Analysis of Virus Peptide Genomic Data
9. Assay Designs(TM), Inc. Announces Release of First Available Product for Multiplex Analysis of Heat Shock Proteins
10. Exiqon Diagnostics Partners With MedTrust Online to Promote KRAS Mutation Analysis and Other Innovative Molecular Oncology Diagnostic Services to Oncologists
11. International science consortium publishes analysis of domestic cattle genome sequence
Post Your Comments:
Related Image:
Analysis confirms that nano-related research has strong multidisciplinary roots
(Date:11/30/2015)... and MAGDEBURG, Germany , November 30, 2015 ... in Vienna, Austria to be ... of NeuroRehabilitation (ECNR) in Vienna, Austria ... NovaVision, a wholly owned subsidiary of Vycor Medical, Inc. ("Vycor") ... its Internet-delivered NovaVision Therapy Suite at the 3rd European ...
(Date:11/28/2015)... ... November 28, 2015 , ... • Jeon Jin Bio Corp, ... and rodent control solutions , Bird Free, ... works across all sensory modalities including visual, smell, taste and touch, enabling safe, effective ...
(Date:11/26/2015)... November 26, 2015 ... Accutest Research Laboratories, a leading ... Organization (CRO), has formed a strategic ... - Temple Health for joint work ... (Photo: ) , --> ...
(Date:11/25/2015)... November 25, 2015 2 nouvelles études ... les différences entre les souches bactériennes retrouvées dans ... des êtres humains . Ces recherches  ouvrent une ... la prise en charge efficace de l,un des ... les chats .    --> 2 nouvelles ...
Breaking Biology Technology:
(Date:11/9/2015)... , Nov. 09, 2015 ... the addition of the "Global Law ... their offering. --> ) ... "Global Law Enforcement Biometrics Market 2015-2019" ... Research and Markets ( ) has ...
(Date:10/29/2015)...  The J. Craig Venter Institute (JCVI) policy group ... Biosecurity: Lessons Learned and Options for the Future," which ... Services guidance for synthetic biology providers has worked since ... --> --> Synthetic biology promises great ... pose unique biosecurity threats. It now is easier than ...
(Date:10/29/2015)... Oct. 29, 2015 Today, LifeBEAM ... partnership with 2XU, a global leader in technical ... smart hat with advanced bio-sensing technology. The hat ... to monitor key biometrics to improve overall training ... the two companies will bring together the most advanced ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):