Assessing the Nature of Nanotechnology: Can We Uncover an Emerging General Purpose Technology?
Stuart J. H. Graham
Georgia Institute of Technology - Scheller College of Business; Office of Chief Economist, United States Patent and Trademark Office
Georgia Institute of Technology - School of Economics
Georgia Institute of Technology
Journal of Technology Transfer, 2007
Attention has increasingly been shifted towards the long-run perspective on technological innovation, which suggests that progress comes in waves, each one originated by a major breakthrough or general purpose technology (GPT). This paper seeks to assess whether nanotechnology is likely to become a GPT, which is sometimes assumed though not necessarily documented. Based on a survey of existing literature, the paper will explore the extent to which nanotechnology addresses three primary characteristics of a GPT: pervasiveness, innovation spawning, and improvement. The paper will draw on patent and patent citation databases to highlight the type of quantitative and qualitative information that is still lacking to characterize the nature of nanotechnology.
Keywords: Nanotechnology, General Purpose Technologies, Patent Analysis
JEL Classification: 0330, 0300, 0340Accepted Paper Series
Date posted: October 15, 2007
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