The Office of Science and Technology Policy has issued a Request for Information (RFI) seeking suggestions for Nanotechnology-Inspired Grand Challenges for the Next Decade. According to the White House website, “A Grand Challenge is an ambitious but achievable goal that requires advances in science and technology to achieve, and that has the potential to capture the public’s imagination.”
The OSTP was established by Congress in 1976. Its mission is to advise the President, and others within the Executive Office of the President, about the effects of science and technology on both domestic and international affairs. The OSTP is authorized to lead interagency efforts to develop and implement sound science and technology policies and budgets. It also works with the private sector, state and local governments, the science and higher education communities, and other nations to achieve this goal. The OSTP’s tasks include providing the President and senior staff members with advice on relevant scientific and technical issues; ensure that the President’s policies are informed by sound science; and “to ensure that the scientific and technical work of the Executive Branch is properly coordinated so as to provide the greatest benefit to society.”
The latest request deals with the National Nanotechnology Initiative (NNI) — started in 2000, the NNI is a U.S. Government R&D initiative that includes the nanotechnology-related activities of 20 departments and independent agencies. The NNI’s goal is a future in which nanotechnology applications will benefit society thanks to a technology and industry revolution.
This week, the White House announced that it is seeking “game-changing ideas for Grand Challenges that harness nanoscience and nanotechnology to solve important national or global problems.” It is advised that the Grand Challenges accelerate additional public and private investment, and that it spur the commercialization of Federally-funded nanotechnology research.
The NNI agencies — working with the National Nanotechnology Coordination Office and OSTP — have stated that by 2025, the nanotechnology R&D community is challenged to achieve the following:
- Increase the five-year survival rates by 50% for the most difficult to treat cancers.
- Create devices no bigger than a grain of rice that can sense, compute, and communicate without wires or maintenance for 10 years, enabling an “internet of things” revolution.
- Create computer chips that are 100 times faster yet consume less power.
- Manufacture atomically-precise materials with fifty times the strength of aluminum at half the weight and the same cost.
- Reduce the cost of turning sea water into drinkable water by a factor of four.
- Determine the environmental, health, and safety characteristics of a nanomaterial in a month.
Submissions must be received by July 16. Details of the challenge can be found here: https://www.federalregister.gov/articles/2015/06/17/2015-14914/nanotechnology-inspired-grand-challenges-for-the-next-decade?