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National Science Foundation

NSF 07-43, Benchmarks of NSF Innovation

top portion of cover page for the Benchmarks of NSF Innovation, includes illustration of molecule chains above rippling water
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Facilitated by competitive merit review, NSF supports cutting-edge research projects--many of which serve as bellwethers for solutions to the myriad complex issues facing society. For example, implantable generators and advanced drug delivery systems illustrate nanotechnology's increasing contribution to understanding and treating disease. An injectable gel to treat spinal cord injuries is the result of NSF-supported polymer research. The LASIK eye-correction procedure has emerged from high-precision laser research funded by NSF.

On the environmental front, thin-film technologies and 'power plastics' efficiently generate power from light, offering viable renewable energy sources. Meanwhile, the production of plastics from atmospheric carbon dioxide puts the damaging greenhouse gas to good use, helping to sustain the environment.

The IntelliOne Roadway Speed Management System will also improve our environment, as well as our daily commutes. The system pinpoints traffic jams in their infancy in real-time. In yet another development, the Globus Toolkit integrates geographically distributed computing systems, providing scientists with the necessary horsepower to conduct data-intensive analyses.

Fundamental research can also lead to unpredictable discoveries with immense potential: the world's strongest natural adhesive is an outstanding example that resulted from materials science research. Produced by aquatic bacteria, this glue is stronger than the superglues currently sold in stores.

This selective list of discoveries illustrates the Foundation's contribution to the larger science and engineering enterprise. In addition to research, education is also a critical component in the global innovation-race equation. Knowledge has become the "coin of the realm." Thus, the training of the next generation of researchers and innovators is key to a prosperous future.

NSF programs traditionally integrate research and education, fast tracking innovation excellence via hands-on learning. For example, NSF supported Advanced Technology Education Centers offer industry-sanctioned technician education programs. The centers respond directly to industry's workforce needs and graduate technicians who immediately enter the high-tech workforce.

Perhaps the best evidence of the success of NSF is the repeated replication of its model for discovery, education and innovation in nations around the globe.

Nanotechnology Powered by Your Body [Next]


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