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NSF renews Centers for Nanotechnology in Society
Date:10/12/2010

The National Science Foundation (NSF) recently renewed two important cooperative agreements totaling more than $12.5 million over five years. These awards leverage previous investments for studying the ethical, legal, economic and policy implications of the relatively new, nature-altering science called nanotechnology.

The Center for Nanotechnology in Society at Arizona State University received $6,507,000 million over a five year renewal, while the Center for Nanotechnology in Society at University of California, Santa Barbara received $6,076,000 million for the same time period.

Nanotechnology allows controlling matter on an atomic and molecular scale. Societal benefits of using the science to create new materials, devices for medicine, electronics and energy production could be transformative. But creating such things through molecular manipulation raises not only health and safety risks but ethical and legal questions as well.

As part of the National Nanotechnology Initiative, which identifies "responsible development" as one of four strategic goals for nanotechnology research, NSF committed to investigating the societal aspects of this promising but uncertain technology. "These centers play a pivotal role in understanding and anticipating the potential societal impacts of nanotechnology and engaging multiple stakeholders in discussions about the future of emerging technologies," said Myron Gutmann, NSF assistant director of Social Behavioral and Economic Sciences. "They are truly interdisciplinary centers, spanning the social, natural and engineering sciences."

NSF-supported research at the Center for Nanotechnology in Society at ASU (CNS-ASU) will use "real-time technology assessment (RTTA)," a social science tool that relies on understanding the social, moral, political and economic dynamics of nanotechnologies, to develop a strategic vision for their "anticipatory governance."

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Contact: Bobbie Mixon
bmixon@nsf.gov
703-292-8485
National Science Foundation
Source:Eurekalert

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