Nanotechnology Now

Our NanoNews Digest Sponsors

Heifer International

Wikipedia Affiliate Button


Home > Press > U.S. faces widening information gap on nanotechnology

As the global nanotechnology industry continues to produce cutting-edge consumer products, the scientific community is leaving a key part of the U.S. public behind when sharing knowledge of this new field of science, according to a new study by the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Arizona State University.

U.S. faces widening information gap on nanotechnology

Madison, WI | Posted on January 13th, 2010

Nanotechnology involves controlling matter of an atomic and molecular size to develop devices of an incredibly small scale, usually 100 nanometers or smaller — tiny enough to fit through a surgical mask. The technology has expanded to offer more than a thousand consumer products from more than 24 countries, including the U.S., China, Canada and Germany. Nanoscale materials now are in common electronics such as iPods, as well as cosmetics, automotive and medical products.

As reported in the January issue of The Scientist, researchers found widening gaps in nanotech knowledge since 2004 between the least-educated and most-educated citizens. Americans with at least a college degree have shown an increase in understanding of the new technology, while knowledge about nanotechnology has declined over time for those with education levels of less than a high school diploma, according to the study.

"Unfortunately, people with little or no formal education — those who need outreach the most — aren't getting as much information about this issue, which will likely become even harder to understand over time," says Elizabeth Corley, Lincoln Professor of Public Policy, Ethics and Emerging Technologies in Arizona State University's School of Public Affairs and co-author of the study.

Well-educated people who are already "information-rich" are learning about nanotechnology from traditional outreach efforts such as museums, Corley says.

Closing these informational gaps among public audiences "is a necessity, especially in light of a projected 2009 U.S. budget that has reduced spending for 'educational and social dimensions' of nanotechnology to $33.5 million from $39.2 million in 2007," the article states.

"There is a real urgency to find ways of communicating effectively with all groups in society," says Dietram Scheufele, John E. Ross Professor in the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences at UW-Madison and co-author of the study. "Unless we find ways to close these learning gaps, we will create two classes of citizens: those who are able to make informed consumer and policy choices about these new technologies, and those who simply can't."

But there is a silver lining. The study also found that the Internet is one of the most effective methods in closing gaps and informing the less educated about nanotechnology.

"Online and social media are some of the most promising tools for making sure we reach all members of the public with information about science and technology," says Scheufele, "and tools like Digg, Twitter, or Facebook will only become more important down the road."

Corley and Scheufele analyzed data from national surveys conducted during the last five years. The study was funded by the Center for Nanotechnology in Society at ASU.


For more information, please click here

Dietram Scheufele

Copyright © University of Wisconsin-Madison

If you have a comment, please Contact us.

Issuers of news releases, not 7th Wave, Inc. or Nanotechnology Now, are solely responsible for the accuracy of the content.

Delicious Digg Newsvine Google Yahoo Reddit Magnoliacom Furl Facebook

Related News Press

News and information

Scientists found a natural nanostructure to control the flow of light October 4th, 2015

Horizontal magnetic tunneling in a field-effect device integrated on Silicon October 3rd, 2015

Crystal clear: Thousand-fold fluorescence enhancement in an all-polymer thin film: Griffith University researchers report breakthrough due to novel and multi-layer Colloidal Photonic Crystal structure October 2nd, 2015

Industrial Nanotech, Inc. Announces New Office in Arizona to Service the Company's New Regional and National Home Builders in Arizona and Nevada October 2nd, 2015


Synthetic biology needs robust safety mechanisms before real world application: Ethics and technology hold the key to the success of synthetic biology September 17th, 2015

March 2016; 6th Int'l Conference on Nanostructures in Iran July 29th, 2015

PETA science consortium to present at Society for Risk Analysis meeting December 10th, 2014

PETA science consortium experts to present at international nanotechology workshop: PETA International Science Consortium, Ltd., Is a Sponsor of Nano Risk Analysis II September 12th, 2014

Preparing for Nano

Durnham University's DEEPEN project comes to a close September 26th, 2012

Technical Seminar at ANFoS 2012 August 22nd, 2012

Nanotechnology shows we can innovate without economic growth April 12th, 2012

Thailand to host NanoThailand 2012 December 18th, 2011


Sniffing out cancer with improved 'electronic nose' sensors October 2nd, 2015

New Processes in Modern ReRAM Memory Cells Decoded October 1st, 2015

Researchers measure how specific atoms move in dielectric materials October 1st, 2015

Researchers create first entropy-stabilized complex oxide alloys September 30th, 2015


SUNY Poly Announces Joint Development Agreement with INFICON to Establish Cutting Edge R&D Partnership Supporting New York State’s Rapidly Expanding Nanoelectronics Industry September 23rd, 2015

Rice announces $150 million in strategic research initiatives: Plan includes campuswide investments, new hires in data science, nanotechnology September 22nd, 2015

A quantum lab for everyone: Modern science as a photorealistic online game September 17th, 2015

UO research dollars climbed in FY 2015: Buoyed by an uptick in federal awards, the university saw gains in its overall sponsored research funding and continued high proposal counts in 2014-2015 September 17th, 2015


Scientists found a natural nanostructure to control the flow of light October 4th, 2015

Industrial Nanotech, Inc. Announces New Office in Arizona to Service the Company's New Regional and National Home Builders in Arizona and Nevada October 2nd, 2015

Production of High Temperature Ceramics with Modified Properties in Iran October 2nd, 2015

ISO Approves 2 Int'l Nanotechnology-Related Standards Proposed by Iran October 2nd, 2015

The latest news from around the world, FREE

  Premium Products
Only the news you want to read!
 Learn More
University Technology Transfer & Patents
 Learn More
Full-service, expert consulting
 Learn More

Nanotechnology Now Featured Books


The Hunger Project

Car Brands
Buy website traffic