Nanotechnology research and applications have experienced rapid growth in recent years. We assessed the status of nanotechnology research worldwide by applying bibliographic, content map, and citation network analysis to a data set of about 200,000 nanotechnology papers published in the Thomson Science Citation Index Expanded database (SCI) from 1976 to 2004. This longitudinal study shows a quasi-exponential growth of nanotechnology articles with an average annual growth rate of 20.7% after 1991. The United States had the largest contribution of nanotechnology research and China and Korea had the fastest growth rates. The largest institutional contributions were from the Chinese Academy of Sciences and the Russian Academy of Sciences. The high-impact papers generally described tools, theories, technologies, perspectives, and overviews of nanotechnology. From the top 20 institutions, based on the average number of paper citations in 1976–2004, 17 were in the Unites States, 2 in France and 1 in Germany. Content map analysis identified the evolution of the major topics researched from 1976 to 2004, including investigative tools, physical phenomena, and experiment environments. Both the country citation network and the institution citation network had relatively high clustering, indicating the existence of citation communities in the two networks, and specific patterns in forming citation communities. The United States, Germany, Japan, and China were major citation centers in nanotechnology research with close inter-citation relationships.
Bibliographic analysisCitation analysisInformation visualizationSelf-organizing mapsNanoscale science and engineeringNanotechnology papersResearch and development (R&D)Technological innovation