Rep. Michael Honda (D-Calif.) has introduced legislation that he says will promote the development and responsible stewardship of nanotechnology. His bill, the Nanotechnology Advancement and New Opportunities (NANO) Act (H.R. 820), would expand the federal government’s efforts to support the commercialization of products emerging from nanotechnology research. A somewhat similar bill was introduced last month by Rep. Bart Gordon (D-Tenn.), chairman of the House Science and Technology Committee. That bill, the National Nanotechnology Initiative Amendments Act of 2009 (H.R. 554) has 21 co-sponsors so far. The S&T Committee has made ensuring that the U.S. is a leader in the development of nanotechnology a priority for the new Congress.

Gordon’s bill aims to reauthorize the multi-agency National Nanotechnology Initiative that Congress formally established in 2003 through the 21st Century Nanotechnology Research and Development Act of 2003. A National Nanotechnology Coordination Office along with the National Research Council of the National Academy of Sciences would supervise a national nanotechnology program.

While the two bills have much in common, H.R. 820 includes elements like the offering of tax credits for individuals purchasing stock in certain types of nanotechnology firms, such as small or start-up companies. Honda reports that H.R. 820 draws on the work of a Task Force on Nanotechnology that he convened in 2005. That task force highlighted various ways the U.S. government could promote the commercialization of nanotechnology, as other governments already are doing. Accordingly, the NANO Act would authorize up to $100,000 to establish public-private partnerships to advance the commercialization of nano-manufacturing technologies to address critical scientific and engineering needs of national importance.

Gordon’s bill, H.R. 554, would encourage nanotechnology research to provide solutions to important problems in such areas as nanoelectronics, energy efficiency, health care, and water remediation and purification. Both bills use various means to support the training of students in nanotechnology to ensure a future workforce.