Journal of Nanoparticle Research

, Volume 10, Issue 5, pp 715–728 | Cite as

Refining search terms for nanotechnology

  • Alan L. Porter
  • Jan YoutieEmail author
  • Philip Shapira
  • David J. Schoeneck


The ability to delineate the boundaries of an emerging technology is central to obtaining an understanding of the technology’s research paths and commercialization prospects. Nowhere is this more relevant than in the case of nanotechnology (hereafter identified as “nano”) given its current rapid growth and multidisciplinary nature. (Under the rubric of nanotechnology, we also include nanoscience and nanoengineering.) Past efforts have utilized several strategies, including simple term search for the prefix nano, complex lexical and citation-based approaches, and bootstrapping techniques. This research introduces a modularized Boolean approach to defining nanotechnology which has been applied to several research and patenting databases. We explain our approach to downloading and cleaning data, and report initial results. Comparisons of this approach with other nanotechnology search formulations are presented. Implications for search strategy development and profiling of the nanotechnology field are discussed.


Bibliometric analysis Nanoscience and engineering Nanotechnology publication Nanopatenting Research profiling Search strategies Nanoinformatics 



Significant research assistance in search definition and database development was provided by Li Tang, Sharyn Finney, Pratik Mehta and Luke McCloud. Rich Kolar developed and generated the patent searches and databases. This research was undertaken at Georgia Tech with support by the Center for Nanotechnology in Society at Arizona State University (CNS-ASU), funded by the National Science Foundation (Award No. 0531194), and support by the National Partnership for Managing Upstream Innovation: The Case of Nanoscience and Technology (North Carolina State University; Award No. EEC-0438684). The findings and observations contained in this paper are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Alan L. Porter
    • 1
  • Jan Youtie
    • 2
    Email author
  • Philip Shapira
    • 1
    • 3
  • David J. Schoeneck
    • 4
  1. 1.Georgia Institute of TechnologyAtlantaUSA
  2. 2.Enterprise Innovation InstituteGeorgia Institute of TechnologyAtlantaUSA
  3. 3.Center for Nanotechnology in Society (CNS-ASU), Program in Nanotechnology Research and Innovation Systems AnalysisTempeUSA
  4. 4.Search Technology, Inc.NorcrossUSA

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