This paper first describes the recent development that scientists and engineers of many disciplines, countries, and institutions increasingly engage in nanoscale research at breathtaking speed. By co-author analysis of over 600 papers published in “nano journals” in 2002 and 2003, I investigate if this apparent concurrence is accompanied by new forms and degrees of multi- and interdisciplinarity as well as of institutional and geographic research collaboration. Based on a new visualization method, patterns of research collaboration are analyzed and compared with those of classical disciplinary research. I argue that current nanoscale research reveals no particular patterns and degrees of interdisciplinarity and that its apparent multidisciplinarity consists of different largely mono-disciplinary fields which are rather unrelated to each other and which hardly share more than the prefix “nano”.
Based on bibliometric methods, this paper describes the global institutionalization of nanotechnology research from the mid-1980s
to 2006. Owing to an extremely strong dynamics, the institutionalization of nanotechnology is likely to surpass those of major
disciplines in only a few years. A breakdown of the relative institutionalizations strengths by the main geographical regions,
countries, research sectors, disciplines, and institutional types provides a very diverse picture over the time period because
of different national science policies. The results allow a critical assessment of the different science policies based on
the relative institutionalizations strengths as well as the conclusion that the institutionalization process has run out of
control of individual governments who once induced the development.