An essay in the journal Small (2011, 7, No. 20, 2836-C2839) discusses the growing footprint of nanoscience and nanotechnology on the global scientific landscape. The authors used query terms such as nano*, graphene* and polymer* in Web of Science by Thomson Reuters to generate search results from several key journals in the field such as ACS Nano and Nano Letters. The search results were subsequently analyzed in terms of scope, geographic distribution and footprint on the scientific literature. The essay’s main points are outlined below.
The percentage of the records returned by the search terms for each year dramatically increased from 20 % in 1991 to 80 % in 2010. Also, the term nano* was not sufficient to capture the full activity in these fields and tended to underestimate the literature, especially that of the 1990s. In terms of subject category, the increase in nanoscale studies has been of several-fold for the top 5 Web of Science categories, namely Physics, Materials Science, Chemistry (physical), Chemistry (multidisciplinary) and Nanoscience and Nanotechnology. The latter had the greatest increase from 18 to 70 % from 1997 to 2009.