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Analysis confirms that nano-related research has strong multidisciplinary roots

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 firm

Contact: John Toon
Georgia Institute of Technology Research News

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