Journal of Nanoparticle Research

, Volume 4, Issue 1–2, pp 9–19 | Cite as

Coherence and Divergence of Megatrends in Science and Engineering

  • M.C. Roco


Scientific discoveries and technological innovations are at the core of human endeavor, and it is estimated that their role will only increase in time. Such advancements evolve in coherence, with areas of confluence and temporary divergences, which bring synergism and that stimulate further developments following in average an exponential growth. Six increasingly interconnected megatrends are perceived as dominating the scene for the next decades: (a) information and computing, (b) nanoscale science and engineering (S&E), (c) biology and bio-environmental approaches, (d) medical sciences and enhancing human physical capabilities, (e) cognitive sciences and enhancing intellectual abilities, and (f) collective behavior and system approach.

This paper presents a perspective on the process of identification, planning and program implementation of S&E megatrends, with illustration for the US research initiative on nanoscale science, engineering, and technology. The interplay between coherence and divergence, leading to unifying science and converging technologies, does not develop only among simultaneous scientific trends but also along time and across geopolitical boundaries. There is no single way of development of S&E, and here is the role of taking visionary measures. Societal implication scientists need to be involved from the conceptual phase of a program responding to a S&E megatrend.

science and engineering priorities science management nanotechnology unifying science converging technologies 


  1. Bergland R., 1985. The Fabric of Mind. Viking Penguin Inc., New York.Google Scholar
  2. Greenspan A., 1999. Federal Reserve Chairman, Statement at the Joint Economic Committee, Washington, D.C.Google Scholar
  3. Montemagno C.D., 2001. Nanomachines: a roadmap for realizing the vision. J. Nanopart. Res. 3, 1-3.Google Scholar
  4. NSF, 2000. Science and Engineering Indicators. National Science Foundation, Arlington, Virginia.Google Scholar
  5. NSTC, 2000. National Nanotechnology Initiative: The Initiative and its Implementation Plan. WH, Washington, D.C., website http://nano.govGoogle Scholar
  6. Roco, M.C., 1999. Scientific and Engineering Innovation in the World: A New Beginning. SATW, Zurich-Aula der Eidergennossischen Technischen Hochschule, Switzerland.Google Scholar
  7. Roco M.C., R.S. Williams &; P. Alivisatos, eds. 2000. Nanotechnology Research Directions. Kluwer Academic Publ., Boston.Google Scholar
  8. Roco M.C., 2001a. From vision to the implementation of the National Nanotechnology Initiative. J. Nanopart. Res. 3(1), 5-11.Google Scholar
  9. Roco M.C., 2001b. International strategy for Nanotechnology Research and Development. J. Nanopart. Res. 3(5-6), 353-360.Google Scholar
  10. Roco M.C. &; W.S. Bainbridge, eds. 2001. Societal Implications of Nanoscience and Nanotechnology, Kluwer Academic Publishers, Boston.Google Scholar
  11. Schwartz P., P. Leyden &; J. Hyatt, 1999. The Long Boom, Perseus Books, New York.Google Scholar
  12. Smalley, R., 2000. Nanotechnology, Education, and the Fear of Nanorobots. Chapter in Societal Implications of Nanoscience and Nanotechnology. NSF Report. (also Kluwer Academic Publ., 2001, pp. 145-146).Google Scholar
  13. Stokes, D.E., 1997. Pasteur's Quadrant: Basic Science and Technological Innovation. Brookins Institution Press, Washington, D.C.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  • M.C. Roco
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.National Science FoundationArlingtonUSA
  2. 2.National Science and Technology Council's Subcommittee on Nanoscale Science, Engineering and TechnologyUSA

Personalised recommendations