As part of its mission, NRL engages in multidisciplinary research. In April 2001, in a departure from traditional working relationships between Laboratory scientists, NRL established an Institute for Nanoscience to conduct multidisciplinary research at the intersections of the fields of materials, electronics and biology. While still belonging organizationally and performing research for their respective divisions, scientists may also be part of the Nanoscience Insitute.
Ground was broken in January 2002 for a major facility at NRL-DC called the Nanosciences Building and the ribbon-cutting ceremony was held in late 2003. The Director for the Institute for Nanoscience, reports to NRL's Director of Research.
The Institute is seen as the venue to bring together expertise from different disciplines in order to identify and exploit those cross-disciplinary opportunities which had not been previously accessible. As such, it will host scientists from other institutions for both short-term visits and long-term visits; collaborative interest has already been expressed by leading academic institutions both here and abroad. The Institute will maintain a strong postdoctoral program and provide an active colloquium series.