Foresight Update 21 (page 4)
A publication of the Foresight Institute
Whither Nanotechnology? A Bibliometric Study
by Alan L. Porter and Scott Cunningham
Examination of activity patterns in the literature ("bibliometrics")
provides a useful set of indicators of the development of a field. We share
with you some interesting indicators that suggest that nanotechnology is
emerging -- rapidly; in multifaceted ways; and with a diverse cast of participants.
We draw on analyses of two major databases -- INSPEC and SCI --
the Science Citation Index. Preliminary scans
of two other electronic databases found very few U.S. Patents explicitly
mentioning nanotechnology and roughly 10 percent as many abstracts in Engineering
Index as in INSPEC.
Searches in INSPEC
We began in INSPEC with a broadly cast search. This identified several
thousand "nano-related" items. At that point, Chris Peterson began
to help us separate out the research more closely akin to "bottom-up"
nanotechnology. Several iterations convinced us that this is a tough task!
The result is a report distinguishing four levels of activity:
Table 1 profiles nanotechnology-related activity
in INSPEC. Table 1-A offers an INSPEC
activity tally for the four levels. Column A, Nano-related, shows that interest
in various facets of nanotechnology is booming (so much so that we limit
further "nano-related" tabulations to the 1896 abstracts appearing
in 1993 and 1994. This also shows how "hot" nano is -- the literature
is burgeoning. In contrast, Column D, Bottom-up Nano, is much more limited.
- A. "Nano-related"
- the most encompassing scan
- B. "Nanotechnology"
- items explicitly including the term
- C. "Scanning probe Nanotechnology"
- items mentioning STM or AFM and nano
- D. "Bottom-up"
- the most restrictive search seeking bottom-up nanotechnology research.
Table 1-B shows which countries are leading contributors
to the nano literature. Note that the USA and Japan are #1 and #2 from Bottom-up
to the most encompassing "nano-related" searches. For "bottom-up,"
the total number is so small that one should not put much stock in the implications.
For interest, Yugoslavia ranks #3 with 4 abstracts. We found it particularly
interesting to see how active China is in general nano-related research.
At one step finer (not shown in Table 1), one can profile publication activity
by state. For "scanning probe nano" research (C), New York yields
the most abstracts (8), followed by Illinois (5) and Arizona (4), with California
trailing (2) . In the other three tabulations, California leads. For "nano-related"
(A), California shows 83 items, followed by New York (57) and Illinois (42),
with 6 other states publishing 22 or more. For "nanotechnology"
(B), California (40) is followed by New York (24) and Texas (16). For "bottom-up
nano," California shows 9 with no others publishing more than 2.
Table 1-C lists "Top 10" institutional
contributors to this literature for (A) " nano-related" and (B)
"nanotechnology." Items with affiliations linked to a given company
(e.g., NEC) from all sites (various countries) are consolidated here. Nano-related
work is coming mostly from universities, followed by research labs, and
several notable industrial firms. Again, the prominence of certain Chinese
groups is notable. Note how different list (B) is -- testimony to the fact
that "nano" covers a considerable range of research activities
that are relatively distinct from each other. The UK strength in B is notable.
Activity in C and D is more limited and widely dispersed. For D, "bottom-up
nano," the only institutions linked to more than a single item are:
Table 1-D profiles the keywords (subject index
terms) most frequently given in these items. Such profiles suggest the relationship
of methods and substantive areas of inquiry. In the interest of space and
sanity, Table 1-D provides a simple cut at this based on "Top 10"
keyword cumulations for each of the four levels , also showing how the other
nano levels relate to each cumulation.
- Bodenkultur Univ, Austria (3)
- Belgrade Univ, Yugoslavia (3)
- Utah Univ, USA (2)
- Caltech, USA (2)
- Matsushita, Japan (2)
- Xerox PARC (2 -- or 4 if one combines with the Inst. for Molecular
Manuf . and the Foresight Inst.).
The first Top 10 is for "nanotechnology." Excepting the term "nanotechnology,"
excluded from the Top 10 because it was an explicit search term, note that
these are the top 10 in Column B. Note that the emphasis is overwhelmingly
on semiconductors, with prominence to STM and AFM, presumably as observational
tools. Moving down Column B, note that the 584 "nanotechnology"
items do touch lightly into other domains.
The second Top 10 is for the "nano-related" search, of which 8
appear here with two in the previous list (silicon and elemental semiconductors).
We interpret this broad "nano-related" search to show strongest
interest in materials science with significant reach into semiconductors
and relatively little in general chemical and biological domains.
The third Top 10 is for "scanning-probe nano"; 4 of this Top 10
appear in the "nanotechnology" (B) Top 10 too. Scanning-probe-based
nanotechnology taps into surface and biological domains in addition to semiconductor
issues; it seems to skirt the materials issues of (A).
Recognizing the relatively small sample, the "bottom-up nano"
profile is still striking in the extent to which it differs from the others.
Table 1-D gives its Top 10 -- distinctly biologically oriented.
Searches in SCI
The following counts are based on a search in the Science Citation Index,
years 1986 - 1995. It duplicates the INSPEC search (Table 1-A).
The Science Citation Index shows considerably less technology or
applied science content than does INSPEC. Where the INSPEC
search emphasizes semiconductors, lithography, and materials science, SCI
has relatively greater coverage in areas of basic research such as microscopy,
biophysics, films, and surface sciences. SCI also is known to have
a strong emphasis on the life sciences, and therefore more strongly highlights
"bottom-up nanotechnology," as it relates to organic chemistry,
biochemistry and clinical chemistry.
Scanning Probe Nano: 150
Bottom-Up Nano: 32
In addition, while there is considerable content in INSPEC using
the term "nanotechnology," in SCI, nanotechnology is a
relatively infrequent term (82 occurrences in 10 years). More common usages
found in SCI that seem to relate to nanotechnology include:
In particular, "self-assembly" appears to be a rich area of research
with strong kinship to nanotechnology.
NANOCRYSTAL(s) and NANOCRYSTALLINE 1127
NANOSIZE$ and NANOSCALE$ 488
SUPRAMOLECULAR and (CHEMISTRY, ASSEMBL$, SYSTEM(s),
NANOTUBE(s) or NANOTUBULE(s) 205
SCI offers a unique capability to track citation patterns. That is,
this database tabulates references between articles. Impressively, 246 articles
in SCI cite Drexler and his works on nanotechnology. This number
is increasing over time: about 10 citations per year for 1987-89, about
20 per year for 1990 -92, 49 in 1993, and 88 in 1994. The top journals in
which Drexler is cited are:
The articles citing Drexler appear in diverse journals, led by the following
- Journal of Molecular Biology
- Journal of the American Chemical Society
- Journal of the Minerals, Metals & Materials Society
- Proceedings of the National Academy of Science (USA)
Areas of solid-state physics, computers and engineering, together, follow
in their citation of Drexler's works (17% of his citations).
- biochemistry, organic chemistry, and genetic engineering - accounting
for about 42% of the citations to Drexler;
- general interest scientific journals (such as Science and Nature,
which are typically considered to be interdisciplinary in content) - 19%
- chemical journals of broad coverage - 13%.
It is interesting to note that of those articles that cite Drexler, a substantial
number (44) also cite J. M. Lehn, a prolific and Nobel-Prize winning scientist.
Over the past decade Lehn has written at least 187 articles indexed in SCI
. These articles are in the areas of supramolecular chemistry, the directed
self-assembly of molecules, and molecular devices. The single most frequently
co-cited paper with Drexler is:
Lehn, J. M. (1988), "Supramolecular Chemistry- Scope and
Perspectives: Molecules, Supermolecules, and Molecular Devices," Angewandte
Chemie - International Edition in English, Vol. 27, p. 89-112.
Other frequently co-cited authors with Drexler include I. Riede, D. J. Cram,
B. Dietrich, and P. R. Ashton. All five of these authors publish heavily
in Angewandte Chemie, which is notable for its absence of citations
In conclusion, by comparing the nanotechnology content of INSPEC
and the Science Citation Index, we see evidence of divergent development.
The results suggest substantial and growing differences among researchers
interested in the "nanosciences." In SCI nanotechnology
coverage is less applied and more oriented towards basic research, so much
so that the word "nanotechnology" itself is only infrequently
used. Secondly, in SCI, nanotechnology research relates much more
closely to the life sciences and most particularly to bio- and organic chemistry.
"Bottom-up nanotechnology" items in INSPEC share this orientation.
Thirdly, there is evidence that different indexing terms are being developed
in the basic and life sciences to refer to items of research that are nonetheless
nanotechnology-related. Fourthly, distinct citation patterns are emerging
where Drexler's "big picture" of nanotechnology development is
being worked by authors performing significant and detailed work in the
emerging problems of a new discipline. Distinctive terminology is emerging
for various forms of nanotechnology research. Indeed, it appears that "nanotechnology"
research is maturing, as indicated by the appearance of divergent research
Nanotechnology in the INSPEC database
Table 1. Nanotechnology in the INSPEC Database
A B C D
Nano-related Nanotechnology Scanning probe Nano Bottom-up Nano
A. Abstracts 3208 584 122 42
B. Countries [rank - %] [rank - %] [rank - %] [rank -%]
USA 1 - 30.8 1 - 33.7 1 - 28.7 1 - 48.6
Japan 2 - 14.5 2 - 23.1 2 - 23.5 2 - 14.3
UK 6 - 5.0 3 - 14.7 4 - 10.4 4 - 8.6
Germany 3 - 9.9 4 - 10.1 3 - 11.3 7 - 2.9
Switzerland 9 - 2.4 5 - 3.2 7.5 - 4.3 - - 0.0
France 5 - 5.4 6 - 3.0 5.5 - 5.2 - - 0.0
Russia 7 - 3.1 7 - 2.0 7.5 - 4.3 6 - 5.7
China 4 - 8.7 8 - 1.3 5.5 - 5.2 - - 0.0
Italy 8 - 2.4 9.5 - 1.1 9.5 - 1.7 - - 0.0
Austria 24 - 0.5 9.5 - 1.1 - - 0.0 5 - 8.6
C. Institutional Affiliation
A. Nano-related [rank - #]
Chinese Acad of Sci, Shenyang, China 1 - 41
IBM 2 - 36
Naval Research Labs, USA 3 - 30
Tohoku Univ, Jpn 4 - 29
Hitachi, Jpn 5 - 24
MIT, USA 6 - 24
Max Planck Inst, Stuttgart, Ger 7 - 23
Tokyo Univ, Jpn 8 - 22
Chinese Acad of Sci, Hefei 9 - 20
Illinois Univ, USA 10 - 19
B. Nanotechnology [rank - #]
IBM 1 - 19
Warwick Univ, UK 2 - 15
Cambridge Univ, UK 4 - 12
Aberdeen Univ, UK 4 - 12
Hitachi, Jpn 4 - 12
Glasgow Univ, UK 7 - 10
Cornell Univ, USA 7 - 10
NEC, Jpn 7 - 10
College of Tech, Ibaraki, Jpn 9.5 - 9
NIST, USA 9.5 - 9
A B C D
Nano-related Nanotechnology Scanning probe Nano Bottom-up Nano
B - "Nanotechnology Top 10"
STM 6.4 19.3 77.0 7.1
Electron beam lithography 4.4 18.2 9.8 0
Silicon 10.9 12.0 10.7 0
AFM 4.1 11.8 30.3 9.5
Integrated circuit technology 2.3 11.5 5.7 0
Sputter etching 3.1 11.0 4.9 0
III-V semiconductors 5.4 10.8 3.3 0
Elemental semiconductors 11.3 10.4 10.7 0
Gallium arsenide 4.5 9.1 3.3 0
Semiconductor technology 1.9 8.6 6.6 0
A - "Nano-related Top 10"
Nanotechnology 16.4 77.6 79.5 14.3
Transmission electron microscope 13.9 2.2 0 0
Iron alloys 11.4 0.2 0 0
X-ray diffraction 11.3 0 0 0
Grain size 9.6 0.2 0 0
Annealing 9.0 1.2 0.8 0
Luminescence of inorganic solids 8.1 3.3 1.6 0
Boron alloys 7.8 0 0 0
C - "Scanning probe Nano Top 10"
Surface structure 3.5 3.6 13.1 0
Organic compounds 0.6 1.7 12.3 2.4
Molecular biophysics 0.3 2.4 8.2 35.7
Etching 2.7 8.2 8.2 0
Langmuir-Blodgett films 0.9 1.2 8.2 0
D - "Bottom-up Nano Top 10"
Proteins 0.1 1.5 1.6 28.6
Biomolecular electronics 0.3 1.9 1.6 23.8
Micromechanical devices 1.2 5.7 4.1 14.3
Biological techniques & instruments 0.3 1.7 3.3 11.9
Macromolecular configurations 0.1 0.9 4.9 9.5
Cellular biophysics 0.05 0.3 0.8 9.5
Cellular transport & dynamics 0 0 0 9.5
Molecular electronics 0.3 2.9 7.4 9.5
 Alan Porter is professor of Industrial & Systems
Engineering, and of Public Policy, at Georgia Tech; he also directs the
Technology Policy and Assessment Center. Scott Cunningham is in the PhD
program at the Science Policy Research Unit (SPRU) of the University of
 INSPEC is produced by the Institution of Electrical
Engineers (IEE). It corresponds to the three Science Abstracts
print publications: Physics Abstracts, Electrical and
Electronics Abstracts, and Computer and Control Abstracts.
As of January, 1995, INSPEC contains 1.98 million abstracts
on line, dating from 1986. About 84 percent of the source publications are
in English. SCI is produced by the Institute for Scientific
 Boolean searches were performed in INSPEC.
Search abbreviations include: "adj" - adjacent to; "and"
- both terms occur; "or" - either term occurs; "near#"
- terms appear within # words of each other; "with" - terms both
appear in the same field (e.g., abstract); "not" - the indicated
terms does not appear; "(s)" - singular or plural; $ - truncation
(any extensions). Search includes items for which the following terms appear
(in keywords, abstract, etc., not just in titles): (atomic adj scale) near1
structure(s); (molecular adj control) near1 structure(s); nanoelec$; nanoma$;
nanotechn$; nanoproc$; nanoprob$; nanofab$; or nanostructur$.
 Search includes: [(scanning adj (tunnelling or tunneling))
or ((atomic adj force) with (microscope(s) or microscopy or spectroscopy))]
and [nanotechnology or (molecular adj electronics) or (molecular adj (modeling
or modelling or simulation)).
 Search consists of: (molecular or computational) adj
nanotechnology; or molecular adj (machine(s) or manufacturing). We attempted
various other searches without notable success -- e.g., linking construction
or device with STM/AFM generated items primarily about device construction;
linking deposition with STM/AFM got predominantly to items that entailed
both deposition (e.g. , chemical vapor) and observation (e.g., STM), but
rarely STM usage for deposition of molecules.
 Searching by abstract and content fields is limited
in this database from the years 1991 to the present. Searches from the years
1986 - 1990 are therefore based on titles only.
 "Nano-related" tabulations in Parts 1-B
to 1-D are based on only the 1896 abstracts published in 1993 and 1994.
 Countries are the "Top 10" in order of "Nanotechnology"
(Column B) frequency. "%" is based on total abstracts for which
a country of author origin is identifiable.
 The "Nano-related" "Top 10" reflect
only 1993 and 1994 abstracts out of 1896 (66 with no affiliation noted).
The "Nanotechnology" "Top 10 " are based on 584 abstracts
(46 with no affiliation noted).
 Shown are a compilation of the most frequent keywords.
The compilation is clustered into "Top 10" lists from each of
the levels, excluding the search terms used to construct that level and
not repeating terms appearing in the other clusters. Values are the % of
the items in which this explicit keyword appears; for "Nano-related,"
the tabulation is limited to the 1896 abstracts for 1993 and 1994. These
terms are standardized in this database. So, for instance, many related
terms could be noted -- "semiconductor technology" is included,
but "semiconductor materials" or "semiconductor growth"
Table of Contents - Foresight Update 21
STM '95, July 23-28, 1995, Snowmass Village, Colorado. Sponsored
by American Vacuum Society. Includes atomic and molecular manipulation.
Tel. 212-248-0327; fax 212-248-0245; email email@example.com.
Advanced Surveillance Technologies, Sept. 4, 1995, Copenhagen. Sponsored
by Privacy International, Electronic Privacy Information Center. Effects
on privacy of leading edge and coming technologies, including nanotechnology.
Tel 202-544-9240; fax 202-547-5482; email firstname.lastname@example.org.
3rd Int'l Symposium on Atomically Controlled Surfaces and Interfaces,
Oct. 12-14, 1995, Raleigh, NC. Sponsored by American Vacuum Society and
Japan Society of Applied Physics. Includes atomically controlled formation
of nanostructures, manipulation of atoms, self-assembling structures, but
mostly top-down, semiconductor emphasis. ACSI-3, Box 8201, Raleigh, NC,
27695; email email@example.com; Web http://www2.ncsu.edu/ncsu/pams/physics/acsi
Nanotechnology lecture for Smithsonian, Washington, DC, by K. Eric
Drexler, date in Oct. to be announced in next Update.
42nd National Symposium of American Vacuum Society, Oct. 16-20, 1995,
Minneapolis. Includes nanometer-scale science and technology: mostly top-down
but also supramolecular structures, self assembly, proximal probe based
fabrication, biological nanostructures. Tel. 212-248-0327; fax 212-248-0245;
4th Foresight Conference on Molecular Nanotechnology, Nov. 8-11,
1995, Palo Alto. Enabling science and technologies, molecular components,
systems design, R&D strategies. Foresight Institute, tel. 415-917-1122,
fax 415-917-1123, email firstname.lastname@example.org, Web page http://nano.xerox.com/nanotech/nano4.html
Senior Associate Gathering, Nov. 11-12, 1995, Palo Alto. Annual meeting
of Foresight, IMM, and CCIT Senior Associates (min. pledge $250/yr for 5
yrs). Intensive exploration of nanotechnology issues; participants need
to have read Engines or Unbounding. Accessible to non-technical participants.
Foresight Institute, tel. 415-917-1122, fax 415-917-1123, email email@example.com.
Table of Contents - Foresight
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