Over the last two decades, nanotechnology has not only grown considerably but also evolved in its use of scientific terminology. This paper examines the growth in nano-prefixed terms in a corpus of nanotechnology scholarly publications over a 21-year time period. The percentage of publications using a nano-prefixed term has increased from <10 % in the early 1990s to nearly 80 % by 2010. A co-word analysis of nano-prefixed terms indicates that the network of these terms has moved from being densely organized around a few common nano-prefixed terms such as “nanostructure” in 2000 to becoming less dense and more differentiated in using additional nano-prefixed terms while continuing to coalesce around the common nano-prefixed terms by 2010. We further observe that the share of nanotechnology papers oriented toward biomedical and clinical medicine applications has risen from just over 5 % to more than 11 %. While these results cannot fully distinguish between the use of nano-prefixed terms in response to broader policy or societal influences, they do suggest that there are intellectual and scientific underpinnings to the growth of a collectively shared vocabulary. We consider whether our findings signify the maturation of a scientific field and the extent to which this denotes the emergence of a shared scientific understanding regarding nanotechnology.
Author(s): Sanjay K. Arora, Jan Youtie, Stephen Carley, Alan L. Porter, Philip Shapira
Organization(s): Georgia Institute of Technology
Source: Journal of Nanoparticle Research