The rapidly emerging nanotechnolgy industry may cause the US to fall behind its European and Asian counterparts, warned a former US congressman.
Newt Gingrich, the former speaker of the US House of Representatives, said: "With European and Asian countries rapidly deploying its use, the US must look at its devotion to more research funding as an extraordinary national security issue."
Gingrich made the remarks during a simultaneous press conference in Washington DC and at the Internet World trade show in New York.
He has recently joined the NanoBusiness Alliance as chairman.
Nanotechnolgy is defined, by the alliance, as the ability to measure, see and manufacture materials and processes on a scale as small as a billionth of a level.
A nanometer is one-thousandth of a micron, which is one-thousandth of a millimeter.
According to Gingrich, nanotechnology has progressed from pure science applications to a profitable industry.
Revenues are already at about $45.5bn globally and venture capital investment in nanotechnology will be more than $1bn in 2002, up from less than $100m in 1998, according to the alliance.
"Discoveries involving nanoscience will be as dramatic and, I believe, even more important than the creation of the internet," Gingrich said.
"If we want to stay at the forefront economically and remain a world leader politically and militarily, I think we have an obligation to really look seriously at funding more nanoscience research."
According to Gingrich, taking the information nanoscience is teaching about atoms and their activity and applying it, "has dramatic implications".
US companies like IBM, Lockheed Martin and Texas Instruments, along with Harvard, MIT and Columbia University, are driving nanotechnology developments, the alliance said.
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