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Nanotech, IT research given boost in Bush budget


(IDG) -- The Bush administration is planning a major increase in funding for nanotechnology research in next year's budget, but overall spending by the National Science Foundation (NSF), a major source of funding for basic research, will see little increase. INFOCENTER
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The Bush administration's proposed budget for the foundation is $4.47 billion, an increase of 1.3% or $56 million, for the next fiscal year, which begins Oct. 1.

But within that budget, nanoscale science and engineering research will rise from $150 million to $174 million, a 16% increase. Information technology research, which is the foundation's largest spending priority area, will increase 5%, from $259 million to $273 million.

In IT research, the NSF, an independent federal agency, has been a major backer of terascale computing, or computers capable of 1 trillion calculations per second. Nanotechnology, which involves the manipulation of material at the molecular level, covers a range of issues, from the development of new, superhard and lightweight materials to computers that use chemical processes to operate.

Increasing spending in some areas, means decreases in others, but NSF officials, at a budget briefing today, said the changes wouldn't eliminate any programs. "We will have a little bit less of everything but nothing is being wiped out," said Curt Suplee, an NSF spokesman.

NSF Director Rita Colwell defended the administration's budget request. "I do not see any lessening of interest in information technology," said Colwell, who noted the recent appointment of Silicon Valley venture capitalist Floyd Kvamme as co-chairman of the President's Committee of Advisers on Science and Technology (see story).

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